- The Facts:
This article was written by Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo,com where it was originally posted. Published here with permission.
- Reflect On:
Given the newly released cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines recommending against daily low-dose aspirin use, natural, safe and effective alternatives are needed now more than ever.
In a previous article titled “The Evidence Against Aspirin and For Natural Alternatives,” we discussed the clear and present danger linked with the use of aspirin as well as several clinically proven alternatives that feature significant side benefits as opposed to aspirin’s many known side effects.
Since writing this article, even more evidence has accumulated indicating that aspirin’s risks outweigh its benefits. Most notably, a 15-year Dutch study published in the journal Heart found that among 27,939 healthy female health professionals (average age 54) randomized to receive either 100 mg of aspirin every day or a placebo the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding outweighed the benefit of the intervention for colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention in those under 65 years of age. Most recently, last month, new cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines submitted jointly by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Associated and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, earlier this year, contradict decades of routine medical advice by explicitly advising against the daily use of low-dose or baby aspirin (75-100 mg) as a preventive health strategy against stroke or heart attack, in most cases.
Of course, aspirin is not alone as far as dangerous side effects are concerned. The entire non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) category of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is fraught with serious danger. Ibuprofen, for instance, is known to kill thousands each year, and is believed no less dangerous than Merck’s COX-2 inhibitor NSAID drug Vioxx which caused between 88,000-140,000 cases of serious heart disease in the five years it was on the market (1999-2004). Tylenol is so profoundly toxic to the liver that contributing writer Dr. Michael Murray recently asked in his Op-Ed piece, “Is it Time for the FDA to Remove Tylenol From the Market?” Just as serious are tylenol’s empathy destroying properties that were only identified four years ago.
Given the dire state of affairs associated with pharmaceutical intervention for chronic pain issues, what can folks do who don’t want to kill themselves along with their pain?
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) Puts Aspirin To Shame
When it comes to aspirin alternatives, one promising contender is pycnogenol, a powerful antioxidant extracted from French maritime pine bark, backed by over 40 years of research, the most compelling of which we have aggregated on GreenMedInfo.com here: Pycnogenol Research. Amazingly, you will find research indexed there showing it may have value for over 80 health conditions.
In 1999, a remarkable study published in the journal Thrombotic Research found that pycnogenol was superior (i.e. effective at a lower dosage) to aspirin at inhibiting smoking-induced clotting, without the significant (and potentially life-threatening) increase in bleeding time associated with aspirin use. The abstract is well worth reading in its entirety:
“The effects of a bioflavonoid mixture, Pycnogenol, were assessed on platelet function in humans. Cigarette smoking increased heart rate and blood pressure. These increases were not influenced by oral consumption of Pycnogenol or Aspirin just before smoking. However, increased platelet reactivity yielding aggregation 2 hours after smoking was prevented by 500 mg Aspirin or 100 mg Pycnogenol in 22 German heavy smokers. In a group of 16 American smokers, blood pressure increased after smoking. It was unchanged after intake of 500 mg Aspirin or 125 mg Pycnogenol. In another group of 19 American smokers, increased platelet aggregation was more significantly reduced by 200 than either 150 mg or 100 mg Pycnogenol supplementation. This study showed that a single, high dose, 200 mg Pycnogenol, remained effective for over 6 days against smoking-induced platelet aggregation. Smoking increased platelet aggregation that was prevented after administration of 500 mg Aspirin and 125 mg Pycnogenol. Thus, smoking-induced enhanced platelet aggregation was inhibited by 500 mg Aspirin as well as by a lower range of 100-125 mg Pycnogenol. Aspirin significantly (p<0.001) increased bleeding time from 167 to 236 seconds while Pycnogenol did not. These observations suggest an advantageous risk-benefit ratio for Pycnogenol.” [emphasis added]
As emphasized in bold above, pycnogenol unlike aspirin did not significantly increase bleeding time. This has profound implications, as aspirin’s potent anti-platelet/’blood thinning’ properties can also cause life-threatening hemorrhagic events. If this study is accurate and pycnogenol is more effective at decreasing pathologic platelet aggregation at a lower dose without causing the increased bleeding linked to aspirin, then it is clearly a superior natural alternative worthy of far more attention by the conventional medical establishment and research community than it presently receives.
Not Just A Drug Alternative
Pycnogenol, like so many other natural interventions, has a wide range of side benefits that may confer significant advantage when it comes to reducing cardiovascular disease risk. For instance, pycnogenol is also:
- Blood Pressure Reducing/Endothelial Function Enhancer: A number of clinical studies indicate that pycnogenol is therapeutic for those suffering with hypertension. Pycnogenol actually addresses a root cause of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in general, namely, endothelial dysfunction (the inability of the inner lining of the blood vessels to function correctly, e.g. fully dilate). It has been shown to prevent damage in microcirculation in hypertensive patients, as well as reducing the dose of blood pressure drugs in hypertensive patients,including hypertensive diabetic patients. It has even been found to reduce intraocular hypertension found in glaucoma patients.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: There is a growing appreciation among the medical community that inflammation contributes to cardiovascular disease. Several markers, including C-reactive protein are now being fore grounded as being at least as important in determining cardiovascular disease risk as various blood lipids and/or their ratios, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Pycnogenol has been found to reduce C-reactive protein in hypertensive patients. Pycnogenol has been found to rapidly modulate downward (inhibit) both Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzyme activity in human subjects, resulting in reduced expression of these inflammation-promoting enzymes within 30 minutes post-ingestion. Another observed anti-inflammatory effect of pycnogenol is its ability to down-regulate the class of inflammatory enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Pycnogenol has also been found to significantly inhibit NF-kappaB activation, a key body-wide regulator of inflammation levels whose overexpression and/or dysregulation may result in pathologic cardiovascular manifestations. Finally, pycnogenol has been found to reduce fibrinogen levels, a glycoprotein that contributes to the formation of blood clots; fibrinogen has been identified as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- The Ideal Air Travel Companion: In a previous article entitled, “How Pine Bark Extract Could Save Air Travelers Lives,” we delve into a compelling body of research that indicates pycnogenol may be the perfect preventive remedy for preventing flight-associated thrombosis, edema, and concerns related to radiotoxicity and immune suppression.
Given the evidence for pycnogenol’s pleotrophic cardioprotective properties, we hope that pycnogenol will become more commonly recommended by health care practitioners as the medical paradigm continues to evolve past its reliance on synthetic chemicals, eventually (we hope) returning to natural, increasingly evidence-based interventions. However, it is important that we don’t fall prey to the one-disease-one-pill model, convincing ourselves to focus on popping pills – this time natural ones – as simply countermeasures or ‘insurance’ against the well-known harms associated with the standard American diet, lack of exercise and uncontrolled stress. The ultimate goal is to remove the need for pills altogether, focusing on preventing cardiovascular disease from the ground up and inside out, e.g. letting high quality food, clean water and air, and a healthy attitude nourish and sustain your health and well-being.
 Ximing Liu, Junping Wei, Fengsen Tan, Shengming Zhou, Gudrun Würthwein, Peter Rohdewald. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, improves endothelial function of hypertensive patients. Life Sci. 2004 Jan 2;74(7):855-62. PMID: 14659974
 Gianni Belcaro, Maria Rosaria Cesarone, Andrea Ricci, Umberto Cornelli, Peter Rodhewald, Andrea Ledda, Andrea Di Renzo, Stefano Stuard, Marisa Cacchio, Giulia Vinciguerra, Giuseppe Gizzi, Luciano Pellegrini, Mark Dugall, Filiberto Fano. Control of edema in hypertensive subjects treated with calcium antagonist (nifedipine) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2006 Oct;12(4):440-4. PMID: 17000888
 Sherma Zibadi, Peter J Rohdewald, Danna Park, Ronald Ross Watson. Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation. Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):315-20. PMID: 19083426
 Robert D Steigerwalt, Belcaro Gianni, Morazzoni Paolo, Ezio Bombardelli, Carolina Burki, Frank Schönlau. Effects of Mirtogenol on ocular blood flow and intraocular hypertension in asymptomatic subjects. Mol Vis. 2008;14:1288-92. Epub 2008 Jul 10. PMID: 18618008
 Maria Rosaria Cesarone, Gianni Belcaro, Stefano Stuard, Frank Schönlau, Andrea Di Renzo, Maria Giovanna Grossi, Mark Dugall, Umberto Cornelli, Marisa Cacchio, Giuseppe Gizzi, Luciano Pellegrini. Kidney flow and function in hypertension: protective effects of pycnogenol in hypertensive participants–a controlled study. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Mar;15(1):41-6. Epub 2010 Jan 22. PMID: 20097689
 Angelika Schäfer, Zuzana Chovanová, Jana Muchová, Katarína Sumegová, Anna Liptáková, Zdenka Duracková, Petra Högger. Inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 activity by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). Biomed Pharmacother. 2006 Jan;60(1):5-9. Epub 2005 Oct 26. PMID: 16330178
 Tanja Grimm, Angelika Schäfer, Petra Högger. Antioxidant activity and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases by metabolites of maritime pine bark extract (pycnogenol). Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2011 Jan;40(1):103-6. PMID: 14990359
 Tanja Grimm, Zuzana Chovanová, Jana Muchová, Katarína Sumegová, Anna Liptáková, Zdenka Duracková, Petra Högger. Inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). J Inflamm (Lond). 2006;3:1. Epub 2006 Jan 27. PMID: 16441890
 G Belcaro, M R Cesarone, S Errichi, C Zulli, B M Errichi, G Vinciguerra, A Ledda, A Di Renzo, S Stuard, M Dugall, L Pellegrini, G Gizzi, E Ippolito, A Ricci, M Cacchio, G Cipollone, I Ruffini, F Fano, M Hosoi, P Rohdewald. Variations in C-reactive protein, plasma free radicals and fibrinogen values in patients with osteoarthritis treated with Pycnogenol. Redox Rep. 2008;13(6):271-6. PMID: 19017467
Originally published: 2017-07-23
Article updated: 2019-04-11
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Acetaminophen—Not Worth the Risk
Acetaminophen has been around for over a century and is the most widely used drug compound in the world. In the U.S., acetaminophen (also called paracetamol or APAP) is present as an active ingredient in over 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications marketed to relieve pain or reduce fever, including Tylenol. Every week, nearly one in four Americans takes an acetaminophen-containing medication, and pediatricians routinely recommend acetaminophen as the treatment of choice for fever in children.
Despite its ubiquity, acetaminophen also has many critics. These argue that the drug’s path to prominence has been littered with errors, false assumptions and undue complacency about risks. Documented problems include life-threatening liver damage in individuals who consume acetaminophen in “excess amounts”—something that is all too easy to do, given the drug’s different aliases and the sheer number of products in which it is present—as well as cardiovascular disease and renal injury risks associated with long-term use. In the critics’ view, these and other problems make acetaminophen “one of the most dangerous compounds in medical use.”
In the U.S., roughly 500 deaths are attributable to acetaminophen each year, as well as 100,000 poison control calls, 50,000 emergency room visits and 10,000 hospitalizations. Most acetaminophen-related emergency department visits are in young children (under age 5), adolescents or young adults. The problem of accidental (or intentional) overdoses is worrisome enough, but there are other reasons to be concerned about acetaminophen use in young people—notably, the drug’s association with asthma and developmental disorders such as autism. The research linking acetaminophen to these epidemic-level chronic conditions suggests that the drug’s automatic inclusion in the childhood medicine cabinet ought to be reconsidered.
… two different studies found that acetaminophen use in the first year of life predicted asthma at age three and at six to seven years of age, respectively.
Acetaminophen and atopic conditions
Numerous studies link acetaminophen use during pregnancy with increased asthma risks in offspring. Research also points to an association between use in infancy and asthma later on. For example, two different studies found that acetaminophen use in the first year of life predicted asthma at age three and at six to seven years of age, respectively.
The associations hold true not just for asthma but also for allergies and eczema. Polish researchers reported “a significant dose-dependent increase” in the risk of asthma, allergy and eczema symptoms in three age groups who used acetaminophen in the previous 12 months: children (ages 6-7), adolescents (ages 13-14) and adults (ages 20-44). A multi-center European study found that the drug was “strongly positively associated with asthma” in 20- to 45-year-old adults taking acetaminophen on a weekly basis, compared with less frequent users.
Taking stock of the size and consistency of the evidence, Spanish researchers—while stopping short of recommending an outright acetaminophen ban—have advocated for a significant rollback on its use:
“It is absolutely clear that the scientific literature is sending a large and consistent signal that challenges the traditional excellent safety profile of acetaminophen in children. […] A widespread, professional-based recommendation of limiting acetaminophen use to those cases in which ibuprofen cannot be administered would reduce the childhood population exposure to a minimum and would provide a good opportunity to minimize the detrimental effect of acetaminophen.”
… the authors note that the long-term effects of acetaminophen exposure on neural development have never been evaluated in humans and point out that even at very low doses, acetaminophen triggers immune system activation and oxidative stress responses—both of which are hallmarks of autism.
Autism and developmental disorders
In addition to asthma, research has linked prenatal acetaminophen use to “lower performance intelligence quotient (IQ), …autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopmental problems (gross motor development, communication), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, poorer attention and executive function, and behavioral problems in childhood.”For example, a longitudinal study that looked at language development in two-and-a-half year-olds whose mothers had taken acetaminophen during the first trimester of pregnancy found a significant association between prenatal acetaminophen use and language delays, particularly in boys. The researchers concluded, “Given…the importance of language development, these findings…would suggest that pregnant women should limit their use of this analgesic during pregnancy.”
There is especially compelling research tying acetaminophen use to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a 2017 study (written by a “who’s who” of autism researchers at Duke, Harvard and the University of Colorado), the authors note that “the long-term effects of acetaminophen exposure on neural development have never been evaluated in humans” and point out that even at very low doses, acetaminophen “triggers immune system activation and oxidative stress responses”—both of which are hallmarks of autism. They also assemble evidence for both prenatal and postnatal associations between acetaminophen use and neurological problems in children, including mentioning a reported link between circumcision-related acetaminophen use and increased autism prevalence.
Many parents report witnessing the onset of regressive autism following their child’s concurrent receipt of acetaminophen and vaccines.
Studies published in 2018 propose that acetaminophen may function as an ASD risk factor in combination with other pharmaceutical and environmental toxins. For example, researchers speculate that acetaminophen magnifies the damage done by antibiotics and glyphosate because it impairs sulfate metabolism and depletes the master antioxidant—glutathione—that the body needs in order to engage in effective detoxification.
Many parents report witnessing the onset of regressive autism following their child’s concurrent receipt of acetaminophen and vaccines. However, researchers desirous of keeping the focus on acetaminophen tend to avoid discussing possible vaccine-related synergistic effects. This is somewhat puzzling, given vaccines’ aluminum content and aluminum’s capacity to impair detoxification in much the same way as acetaminophen. In fact, there are multiple mechanisms “whereby significant quantities of aluminium introduced via immunisation could produce chronic neuropathology in genetically susceptible children,” including oxidative stress, glutathione depletion and increased inflammation. The “synchronicity…between the onset of the autism epidemic and the surge in acetaminophen use” is undeniable, but so is the synchronicity between autism and the ever-expanding childhood vaccine schedule.
No more candy
For years, health providers and parents have handed out acetaminophen-containing products like candy, heedless of the compound’s documented toxicity. Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Tylenol and one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has been only too happy to continue encouraging perceptions of a “favorable safety profile”; however, recurrent lawsuits and recalls and the abundant literature describing toxic outcomes suggest that it may be time for acetaminophen’s glory days to come to a close.
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US House of Representatives Investigating if the Government Created Lyme Disease As A Bioweapon
- The Facts:
A New Jersey lawmaker suggests the government turned ticks and insects into bioweapons to spread disease, and possibly released them. He is not the only one who believes so.
- Reflect On:
This is not the only example of supposed human experimentation on mass populations by the government
There are a number of subjects that were once considered ‘conspiracy theories,’ which are now no longer in that realm. ‘Conspiracy theories’ usually, in my opinion, arise from credible evidence. The implications, however, are so grand and so mind-altering that many may experience some sort of cognitive dissonance as a result. One of the topics often deemed a ‘conspiracy theory’ is weaponized diseases, and the latest example comes from an approved amendment that was proposed by a Republican congressman from New Jersey. His name is Chris Smith, and he instructed the Department of Defence’s Inspector General to conduct a review on whether or not the US “experimented with ticks and insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975” and “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiment were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design.”
The fact that Smith brought this up shows that any intelligent person who actually looks into this has reason to believe it’s a possibility, yet mainstream media outlets are ridiculing the idea, calling it a conspiracy instead of actually bringing up the points that caused Smith to demand the review.
The fact that the amendment was approved by a vote in the House speaks volumes. Smith said that the amendment was inspired by “a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at US government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland, and Plum Island, New York, to turn ticks and insects into bioweapons”.
Most people don’t know that the US government has experimented on its own citizens a number of times. All of this is justified for “national security” purposes. National security has always been a term used as an excuse to prolong secrecy, justify the government’s lack of transparency, and create black budget programs that have absolutely no oversight from Congress.
For example, on September 20, 1950, a US Navy ship just off the coast of San Francisco used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the city’s famous fog. The military was apparently testing how a biological weapon attack would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.The people of San Francisco had absolutely no idea. The Navy continued the tests for seven days, and multiple people died as a result. It was apparently one of the first large-scale biological weapon trials that would be conducted under a “germ warfare testing program” that went on for 20 years from 1949 to 1969. The goal “was to deter [the use of biological weapons] against the United States and its allies and to retaliate if deterrence failed,” the government later explained. Then again, that’s if you trust the explanation coming from the government.
This could fall under the category of human subject research. It’s still happening! A dozen classified programs that involved research on human subjects were underway last year at the Department of Energy. Human subject research refers broadly to the collection of scientific data from human subjects. This could involve performing physical procedures on the subjects or simply conducting interviews and having other forms of interaction with them. It could even involve procedures performed on entire populations, apparently without their consent.
Human subjects research erupted into national controversy 25 years ago with reporting by Eileen Welsome of the Albuquerque Tribune on human radiation experiments that had been conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission, many of which were performed without the consent of the subjects. A presidential advisory committee was convened to document the record and to recommend appropriate policy responses.
When it comes to Lyme disease, the Guardian points out that:
A new book published in May by a Stanford University science writer and former Lyme sufferer, Kris Newby, has raised questions about the origins of the disease, which affects 400,000 Americans each year.
Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons, cites the Swiss-born discoverer of the Lyme pathogen, Willy Burgdorfer, as saying that the Lyme epidemic was a military experiment that had gone wrong.
Burgdorfer, who died in 2014, worked as a bioweapons researcher for the US military and said he was tasked with breeding fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects, and infecting them with pathogens that cause human diseases.
According to the book, there were programs to drop “weaponised” ticks and other bugs from the air, and that uninfected bugs were released in residential areas in the US to trace how they spread. It suggests that such a scheme could have gone awry and led to the eruption of Lyme disease in the US in the 1960s.
This is concerning. It’s a story that, for some reason, instantly reminded me of the MK ultra program, where human subjects were used for mind control research.
If things like this occurred in the past, it’s hard to understand why someone would deem the possibility of this happening again a ‘conspiracy theory.’ What makes one think this wouldn’t be happening again, especially given the fact that there is sufficient evidence suggesting it is?
Lyme disease is also very strange. If you did get it, you probably wouldn’t know immediately – unless you’re one of the chronic sufferers that have had to visit over 30 doctors to get a proper diagnosis. Lyme disease tests are highly inaccurate, often inconclusive or indicating false negatives.
Why? Because this clever bacteria has found a way to dumb down the immune system and white blood cells so that it’s not detectable until treatment is initiated. To diagnose Lyme disease properly you must see a “Lyme Literate MD (LLMD).” However, more and more doctors are turning their backs on patients due to sheer fear of losing their practices! Insurance companies and the CDC will do whatever it takes to stop Chronic Lyme Disease from being diagnosed, treated, or widely recognized as an increasingly common issue.
You can read more about that here.
It’s becoming more apparent that our government as well as our federal health regulatory agencies are extremely corrupt. There are a number of examples to choose from throughout history proving this. The fact that something like this doesn’t seem believable to the public is ridiculous and further enhances and prolongs the ability for the powerful elite and the government to continue conducting these activities. Awareness is key.
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The Medical Journals’ Sell-Out—Getting Paid to Play
[Note: This is Part IX in a series of articles adapted from the second Children’s Health Defense eBook: Conflicts of Interest Undermine Children’s Health. The first eBook, The Sickest Generation: The Facts Behind the Children’s Health Crisis and Why It Needs to End, described how children’s health began to worsen dramatically in the late 1980s following fateful changes in the childhood vaccine schedule.]
The vaccine industry and its government and scientific partners routinely block meaningful science and fabricate misleading studies about vaccines. They could not do so, however, without having enticed medical journals into a mutually beneficial bargain. Pharmaceutical companies supply journals with needed income, and in return, journals play a key role in suppressing studies that raise critical questions about vaccine risks—which would endanger profits.
Journals are willing to accept even the most highly misleading advertisements. The FDA has flagged numerous instances of advertising violations, including ads that overstated a drug’s effectiveness or minimized its risks.
An exclusive and dependent relationship
Advertising is one of the most obviously beneficial ways that medical journals’ “exclusive and dependent relationship” with the pharmaceutical industry plays out. According to a 2006 analysis in PLOS Medicine, drugs and medical devices are the only products for which medical journals accept advertisements. Studies show that journal advertising generates “the highest return on investment of all promotional strategies employed by pharmaceutical companies.” The pharmaceutical industry puts a particularly “high value on advertising its products in print journals” because journals reach doctors—the “gatekeeper between drug companies and patients.” Almost nine in ten drug advertising dollars are directed at physicians.
In the U.S. in 2012, drug companies spent $24 billion marketing to physicians, with only $3 billion spent on direct-to-consumer advertising. By 2015, however, consumer-targeted advertising had jumped to $5.2 billion, a 60% increase that has reaped bountiful rewards. In 2015, Pfizer’s Prevnar-13 vaccine was the nation’s eighth most heavily advertised drug; after the launch of the intensive advertising campaign, Prevnar “awareness” increased by over 1,500% in eight months, and “44% of targeted consumers were talking to their physicians about getting vaccinated specifically with Prevnar.” Slick ad campaigns have also helped boost uptake of “unpopular” vaccines like Gardasil.
Advertising is such an established part of journals’ modus operandi that high-end journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) boldly invite medical marketers to “make NEJM the cornerstone of their advertising programs,” promising “no greater assurance that your ad will be seen, read, and acted upon.” In addition, medical journals benefit from pharmaceutical companies’ bulk purchases of thousands of journal reprints and industry’s sponsorship of journal subscriptions and journal supplements.
In 2003, an editor at The BMJ wrote about the numerous ways in which drug company advertising can bias medical journals (and the practice of medicine)—all of which still hold true today. For example:
- Advertising monies enable prestigious journals to get thousands of copies into doctors’ hands for free, which “almost certainly” goes on to affect prescribing.
- Journals will guarantee favorable editorial mentions of a product in order to earn a company’s advertising dollars.
- Journals can earn substantial fees for publishing supplements even when they are written by “paid industry hacks”—and the more favorable the supplement content is to the company that is funding it, the bigger the profit for the journal.
Discussing clinical trials, the BMJ editor added: “Major trials are very good for journals in that doctors around the world want to see them and so are more likely to subscribe to journals that publish them. Such trials also create lots of publicity, and journals like publicity. Finally, companies purchase large numbers of reprints of these trials…and the profit margin to the publisher is huge. These reprints are then used to market the drugs to doctors, and the journal’s name on the reprint is a vital part of that sell.”
… however, even these poor-quality studies—when funded by the pharmaceutical industry—got far more attention than equivalent studies not funded by industry.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), nearly three-fourths of all funding for clinical trials in the U.S.—presumably including vaccine trials—came from corporate sponsors as of the early 2000s. The pharmaceutical industry’s funding of studies (and investigators) is a factor that helps determine which studies get published, and where. As a Johns Hopkins University researcher has acknowledged, funding can lead to bias—and while the potential exists for governmental or departmental funding to produce bias, “the worst source of bias is industry-funded.”
In 2009, researchers published a systematic review of several hundred influenza vaccine trials. Noting “growing doubts about the validity of the scientific evidence underpinning [influenza vaccine] policy recommendations,” the authors showed that the vaccine-favorable studies were “of significantly lower methodological quality”; however, even these poor-quality studies—when funded by the pharmaceutical industry—got far more attention than equivalent studies not funded by industry. The authors commented:
[Studies] sponsored by industry had greater visibility as they were more likely to be published by high impact factor journals and were likely to be given higher prominence by the international scientific and lay media, despite their apparent equivalent methodological quality and size compared with studies with other funders.
In their discussion, the authors also described how the industry’s vast resources enable lavish and strategic dissemination of favorable results. For example, companies often distribute “expensively bound” abstracts and reprints (translated into various languages) to “decision makers, their advisors, and local researchers,” while also systematically plugging their studies at symposia and conferences.
The World Health Organization’s standards describe reporting of clinical trial results as a “scientific, ethical, and moral responsibility.” However, it appears that as many as half of all clinical trial results go unreported—particularly when their results are negative. A European official involved in drug assessment has described the problem as “widespread,” citing as an example GSK’s suppression of results from four clinical trials for an anti-anxiety drug when those results showed a possible increased risk of suicide in children and adolescents. Experts warn that “unreported studies leave an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of the risks and benefits of treatments.”
Many vaccine studies flagrantly illustrate biases and selective reporting that produce skewed write-ups that are more marketing than science.
Debased and biased results
The “significant association between funding sources and pro-industry conclusions” can play out in many different ways, notably through methodological bias and debasement of study designs and analytic strategies. Bias may be present in the form of inadequate sample sizes, short follow-up periods, inappropriate placebos or comparisons, use of improper surrogate endpoints, unsuitable statistical analyses or “misleading presentation of data.”
Occasionally, high-level journal insiders blow the whistle on the corruption of published science. In a widely circulated quote, Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of NEJM, acknowledged that “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” Dr. Angell added that she “[took] no pleasure in this conclusion, which [she] reached slowly and reluctantly” over two decades at the prestigious journal.
Many vaccine studies flagrantly illustrate biases and selective reporting that produce skewed write-ups that are more marketing than science. In formulaic articles that medical journals are only too happy to publish, the conclusion is almost always the same, no matter the vaccine: “We did not identify any new or unexpected safety concerns.” As an example of the use of inappropriate statistical techniques to exaggerate vaccine benefits, an influenza vaccine study reported a “69% efficacy rate” even though the vaccine failed “nearly all who [took] it.” As explained by Dr. David Brownstein, the study’s authors used a technique called relative risk analysis to derive their 69% statistic because it can make “a poorly performing drug or therapy look better than it actually is.” However, the absolute risk difference between the vaccine and the placebo group was 2.27%, meaning that the vaccine “was nearly 98% ineffective in preventing the flu.”
… the reviewers had done an incomplete job and had ignored important evidence of bias.
In 2018, the Cochrane Collaboration—which bills its systematic reviews as the international gold standard for high-quality, “trusted” evidence—furnished conclusions about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that clearly signaled industry bias. In May of that year, Cochrane’s highly favorable review improbably declared the vaccine to have no increased risk of serious adverse effects and judged deaths observed in HPV studies “not to be related to the vaccine.” Cochrane claims to be free of conflicts of interest, but its roster of funders includes national governmental bodies and international organizations pushing for HPV vaccine mandates as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—both of which are staunch funders and supporters of HPV vaccination. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s president is a former top CDC official who served as acting CDC director during the H1N1 “false pandemic” in 2009 that ensured millions in windfall profits for vaccine manufacturers.
Two months after publication of Cochrane’s HPV review, researchers affiliated with the Nordic Cochrane Centre (one of Cochrane’s member centers) published an exhaustive critique, declaring that the reviewers had done an incomplete job and had “ignored important evidence of bias.” The critics itemized numerous methodological and ethical missteps on the part of the Cochrane reviewers, including failure to count nearly half of the eligible HPV vaccine trials, incomplete assessment of serious and systemic adverse events and failure to note that many of the reviewed studies were industry-funded. They also upbraided the Cochrane reviewers for not paying attention to key design flaws in the original clinical trials, including the failure to use true placebos and the use of surrogate outcomes for cervical cancer.
In response to the criticisms, the editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library initially stated that a team of editors would investigate the claims “as a matter of urgency.” Instead, however, Cochrane’s Governing Board quickly expelled one of the critique’s authors, Danish physician-researcher Peter Gøtzsche, who helped found Cochrane and was the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. Gøtzsche has been a vocal critic of Cochrane’s “increasingly commercial business model,” which he suggests is resulting in “stronger and stronger resistance to say anything that could bother pharmaceutical industry interests.” Adding insult to injury, Gøtzsche’s direct employer, the Rigshospitalet hospital in Denmark, then fired Gøtzsche. In response, Dr. Gøtzsche stated, “Firing me sends the unfortunate signal that if your research results are inconvenient and cause public turmoil, or threaten the pharmaceutical industry’s earnings, …you will be sacked.” In March 2019, Gøtzsche launched an independent Institute for Scientific Freedom.
In 2019, the editor-in-chief and research editor of BMJ Evidence Based Medicine—the journal that published the critique of Cochrane’s biased review—jointly defended the critique as having “provoke[d] healthy debate and pose[d] important questions,” affirming the value of publishing articles that “hold organisations to account.” They added that “Academic freedom means communicating ideas, facts and criticism without being censored, targeted or reprimanded” and urged publishers not to “shrink from offering criticisms that may be considered inconvenient.”
In recent years, a number of journals have invented bogus excuses to withdraw or retract articles critical of risky vaccine ingredients, even when written by top international scientists.
The censorship tsunami
Another favored tactic is to keep vaccine-critical studies out of medical journals altogether, either by refusing to publish them (even if peer reviewers recommend their publication) or by concocting excuses to pull articles after publication. In recent years, a number of journals have invented bogus excuses to withdraw or retract articles critical of risky vaccine ingredients, even when written by top international scientists. To cite just three examples:
- The journal Vaccine withdrew a study that questioned the safety of the aluminum adjuvantused in Gardasil.
- The journal Science and Engineering Ethics retracted an article that made a case for greater transparency regarding the link between mercury and autism.
- Pharmacological Research withdrew a published veterinary article that implicated aluminum-containing vaccines in a mystery illness decimating sheep, citing “concerns” from an anonymous reader.
Elsevier, which publishes two of these journals, has a track record of setting up fake journals to market Merck’s drugs, and Springer, which publishes the third journal as well as influential publications like Nature and Scientific American, has been only too willing to accommodate censorship requests. However, even these forms of censorship may soon seem quaint in comparison to the censorship of vaccine-critical information now being implemented across social media and other platforms. This concerted campaign to prevent dissemination of vaccine content that does not toe the party line will make it harder than ever for American families to do their due diligence with regard to vaccine risks and benefits.
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