We are in the midst of great
changes. We hear promises of a kinder, gentler nation, a new world order, glasnost, para stroika, democratization globally, the Green Movement, animal rights, and beating
swords into plowshares. All of these have commonality. They are peaceful, they
are non-invasive, kind, reflective. They are prospective, and seem to signal a
backing away from full-steam-ahead nationalism, industrialism, racism, sexism,
exploitation, political domination, and similar oppressive actions. Doesn't it seem,
at least intellectually, as though there is a trend toward gentleness and respect for life
in the world at large?
- The recent events in the Soviet
Union, which appear to be truly historical, are dramatic examples of the move away from
oppression, manipulation, and the invasion of freedoms. Kindness, respect, and
gentleness are the new operative words. If these trends are more than simply passing
fancies, which every indication would suggest they are, then we are indeed at the brink of
new hope for our world. These events are significant. They cannot be simply
blips in a descending line toward destruction of our Earth. Increasingly people
world-wide are seeing that these are the rational choices that must be made in order to
know peace and health and to leave something to our children that is truly worthwhile.
- As I review primary medical and
scientific sources for the Health Letter, I
increasingly find reports that truly portend significant change. They are the same
changes we are seeing elsewhere. They are changes of gentleness, toward more
kindness, toward less invasion, manipulation and oppression. They reflect a coming
full circle to the realization that we understand little about biology. Health
results are much more positive with gentle support, caring direction for appropriate
prevention, and lovingly administered palliation.
- For example, in vascular
disease atherosclerotic plaque impinges upon the lumina (opening within) of vessels,
resulting in the interruption of blood flow distal (away from the heart) to the lesions.
In peripheral vascular disease this results in symptoms of intermittent
claudication. Peripheral vascular disease is often associated with diabetes
mellitus, as is coronary vascular disease, and is often signaled by high blood
- In 1984 it was predicted that
the new technique called percutaneous transluminal angioplasty would by and large replace
bypass surgery as a treatment for peripheral vascular disease. Since transluminal
angioplasty is a less extensive procedure, it was predicted that it would save 352 lives,
over $82 million dollars, and over 5,000 limbs each year. The primary reason for
surgical intervention with peripheral vascular disease is to salvage the limb. Blood
flow interrupted to a limb can cause gangrene in the limb and also disseminated infection
and toxemia which can be fatal. Thus, many limbs have been amputated to save lives.
- In a recent study, 11 years
worth of data between 1979 and 1989 were analyzed for Maryland. Remarkably, a
doubling of the rate of peripheral bypass surgery resulted in no major change in the
frequency of lower limb amputations. Further, it was found there was a substantial
increase in the number of hospital days and total charges associated with these
revascularization procedures compared to other methods of care. So, in effect, all
of the predicted goals of angioplasty went the opposite way.
The graph on page 2 demonstrates this. You'll see
that amputation remains pretty much the same, whereas both bypass surgeries and
angioplasties have increased.
- Although the authors spend a
considerable amount of time in the article attempting to explain this conundrum, no
adequate explanation is advanced. They suggest that it might be due to increased
diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease, expanded indications for interventions, or
increased numbers of repeat procedures. The only thing that is not adequately
addressed is whether either of the procedures, angioplasty or bypass, are truly beneficial
or whether many patients may do better without the procedures at all.
- In the same journal, another
author writes an article entitled Intermittent Claudication - Be Conservative.
Although the author concedes that in certain extreme cases surgical intervention
may be necessary and helpful, he argues that in many cases conservative, hands-off therapy
would do patients far more good than intervention.
- Now, in the same journal let's
move to another topic. An article entitled Perioperative Total Parenteral
Nutrition in Surgical Patients, assessed whether parenteral (IV) nutrition
decreased the incidence of serious complications after major abdominal or thoracic
surgical procedures in malnourished patients. Although this seems like an eminently
logical approach since malnourishment, it would seem, would require nutrition, the authors
found that the procedure should be restricted to only the severely malnourished, unless
there are other very specific indications. Aside from not demonstrating a valued
benefit in most patients, randomized trials showed that parenteral nutrition was found to
be associated with more infections and possible net harm to many patients as discussed in
a follow-up article in the same journal entitled Parenteral Nutrition - Is it
- This is only one journal of the
dozens we review each month which present similar findings regarding a broad range of
modern health care practices. For the physician who is au courent (well read in the current
literature) this must present unending intellectual and professional conflict. On
the one hand, practices such as parenteral nutrition, angioplasty and bypass surgery are
routine and practiced on thousands of patients and assumed to be of value. On the other,
data carefully collected in controlled settings demonstrates that such procedures may be
useless if not indeed harmful.
- To keep current on such
information means to be faced with constant dilemmas. This crisis of choice is bound
to mount into spiraling conflict and eventually a full blown revolution. It will be
more subtle than what we just saw on the streets of Moscow, but will be just as important
in its impact.
- We are being forced to see that
arteries being dilated or grafted, or vessels being injected with various isolated
synthetic nutriments, are attached to a complex body. Faced with evidence that many
modern medical measures either do not help or actually harm, and increasing awareness of
this information through an ever more alert and capable media, practitioners will be
forced to change from the modus operandi of first do something to first
do no harm.
- It does indeed seem like change
is on the horizon. Many factors can be credited, but it is likely that an
increasingly educated world population, a global economy, and modern communication that
removes all distance barriers between peoples and information, helps the emergence
- It is illogical to treat the
world socially, politically, biologically, environmentally, or medically as if it were
simply a summation of parts which can be manipulated with impunity. It is a
synergistic whole. This is both intuitively and factually correct. If the
world is an intricate life-like interconnected synergistic web, rather than just a
summation of disconnected parts, then it follows logically that the world must be treated
with respect, kindness and gentleness. Noninvasion, nonmanipulation, contextual
actions must replace our dominionistic, industrial, technocratic attitudes if peace,
harmony, and social, environmental and biological health are to result.
- Irrationality is the square
root of all evil. As people world-wide come to realize this, true beneficial change
can indeed occur.
- The New
England Journal of Medicine, August 22, 1991: 525-578.
- Palliative Medicine
- What positive goals can be set
for the physician and patient who are facing incurable illness and death? What are
the needs of such patients, and how can they best be met by the patient/family/medical
- A few months ago we discussed
the option of dying at home with dignity. At the risk once again of dwelling on a
topic none of us loves, I should share with you more ideas about how to face the
- Palliative medicine is a
relatively new philosophy. It is similar to hospice-type care, but more closely
linked with the traditional medical community. Palliative medicine is a term being
used for the medical care given when incurable and dying patients, either alone or with
the help of their families and physicians, have decided to forego any further active,
aggressive or invasive treatments. Palliative care is not high-tech treatment, but
it is not really contrary to modern medical technology. It can be summarized as
medical care with love rather than science as the driving force. It is an attempt to
return to the traditional role of doctors and nurses - to cure sometimes, to relieve
often, to comfort always. Unlike hospice, however, it does not, by and large,
remove the physician from the scene.
- An excerpt from the writings of
Halina Bortnowska, philosopher, author and hospice volunteer, sums up the difference
between cure and care. She writes: Cure encompasses the military virtues of
fighting, not giving up, and endurance, and necessarily contains a measure of hardness.
In contrast... care has human dignity as its central value and stresses the
solidarity between the patient and the caregivers, an attitude which results in effective
compassion. She stresses that it is important to give the patient the power to
decide as much as possible, for as long as possible.
- Not surprisingly, one of the
most critical problems facing the incurable or dying patient and the palliative care
medical team is pain relief, especially with cancer. According to the World Health
Organization, the problem is immense: in developing countries, 25% of the population die
from cancer, and two-thirds of patients with advanced cancer will experience severe pain.
Around the world today, at least four million people are
suffering from cancer pain and most of these people probably are not receiving adequate
- Relief of pain and other
distressing symptoms is a primary goal of palliative care, according to Dr. Robert
Twycross of the Churchill Hospital at Oxford, England. This is not as simple as
finding pain relief alone. Unfortunately, despite the fact that symptom control has
reached a point where most patients should expect to be free of pain for most of the time,
there is the new problem that once they are comfortable, no longer distracted and
exhausted by unrelieved pain, they now have more emotional and spiritual distress as they
are feeling better, thinking more clearly, and free to contemplate the approach of death.
Very few people are stable or strong enough - or whatever it takes - to contemplate
their deaths rationally and gracefully. Rather, most physicians or caregivers are
faced with a person in anguish, enraged, extremely fearful, and in need of great measures
- The palliative approach
stresses that it is necessary to offer whole-person care. The goals would be to help
patients do their best, considering their strengths, their weaknesses and the difficulties
ahead. The patient must be met where he or she is; socially, culturally,
psychologically, and spiritually as well as physically. There is no such thing as a
typical dying patient. To be a good palliative caregiver, one must not only be
loving, but flexible and adaptable, and a very quick witted judge of other human beings,
their feelings, and their ever-evolving needs.
- When most of us think of death,
aside from the fear of unfinished business left behind or the grief you will leave with
loved ones, there is the fear of pain. Who does not wish to simply slip away in the
middle of a pleasant dream, in the twilight of our years, after a beautiful day relaxing
with friends and family? Unfortunately we see all too many wasting away in a
hospital bed in pain, and we all fear this eventuality befalling us as well. Pain is
what we all want to avoid, both physical and mental.
- Pain relief itself is not an
all or none question. In a situation where complete pain relief is
difficult to achieve, the goal should be set to help a patient move from a position in
which he or she is mastered by the pain to one in which mastery is established over the
pain. While in theory the physician may strive for complete pain relief, partial
pain relief may be acceptable provided the patient's comfort level is definitely
improved, the patient is physically and mentally rested and no longer exhausted by the
pain, and both the patient and their family appear to be in control of the situation.
Only then will effectively addressing other needs of the patient be possible.
Physicians are traditionally relatively untrained in communication and patient
relations, and will find the new challenges of palliative caregiving difficult to meet.
- Many cancer patients are
extremely depressed and fearful early on during the course of their illness because they
are experiencing pain and haven't realized yet that they can expect relief. The goal
set by the physician and patient can be pain-free, positive, and - to the degree possible
- productive days and restful, sleepful nights. Particularly helpful here are
supportive physicians and skilled hospital or hospice staff members. Very few people
need suffer from a disease as in times gone by.
The suffering can by and large be alleviated
and productive living to the fullest can remain the goal, in spite of the disease.
- Creative living can continue to
the end. According to Dr. D.R. Frampton writing in the British Medical Journal,
Careers tend to have a preoccupation with treatment of one sort or another, things
done to the patient or for the patient... Terminally ill patients already have to have so
much done for them that they often have lost all sense of purpose and worth.
- An emphasis on the patient
doing rather than being done to helps one to live and die as a
whole person. Some palliative care centers in Great Britain encourage creativity
through poetry writing and art. As Dr. Frampton says, Poetry seems to be a
vehicle for saying a lot in relatively few words. Though a professional poet can
express in very fine verse what it must be like to die, the inexpert poem of a dying
person may end up speaking more clearly to the heart. In many cases, the
caregivers need only give gentle encouragement to entice a patient into some activity
which gives an increased sense of self and well-being.
- Palliative care involves
companionship, which is one reason why hospices and special palliative care centers are
more successful with this type of care. The caregivers have to let the patient know
that they have every intention of remaining interested in the patient. Not all
doctors, especially in high-tech intense hospital settings, are able to offer this.
Additionally, exactly how one person is able to give strength and reassurance to
another person remains a mystery. But palliative care centers suggest that being
natural and friendly has a great deal to do with lending strength to the terminally ill
patient, and giving unconditional acceptance and affirmation.
- This means communicating to the
patient that they will not be abandoned and that they are still important. It is the
purpose behind palliative care, and through giving this kind of care everyone's living is
- Hospice care is seen by many as
young and open to new ideas. Many hospices are places where care is excellent.
Staff members apparently possess unlimited amounts of love and dedication in spite
of often times low salaries, and often high-tech physicians want little to do with them.
Thus hospices and similar centers may be vulnerable to infiltration by the wrong
types, according to Dr. Doyle. His hope, and that of many traditional medical
community members, is that hospice can live within the traditional medical surroundings.
- Hospice is not necessarily a
physical place - a brick building, so to speak. It can be interpreted as a
philosophy and here the terms hospice care and palliative care merge. Like the
hospice philosophy, palliative care is a team of caregivers meeting the needs of patients
with advanced disease, with a short prognosis, for whom cure is impossible.
- Moving away from the notion of
cure, the focus of care is now on the quality of life. To know that life's end need
not involve suffering in an indifferent, cool, medical facility should be a relief to us
- If you or someone you love
needs hospice care, call the National Hospice Organization at 703-243-5900. They
will be able to tell you the location and benefits, opportunities, and resources available
closest to you.
Ford Hospital Medical Journal, 1991; Vol. 39, No. 2
- Disembodied Living Heads
- Two brain surgeons, Drs.
Kreiter and Kuhrig, delivered a paper at a medical society meeting in Paris in which they
claim to have kept the severed head of an accident victim alive in a private Leipzig
hospital for 20 days. They reported that the patient was able to communicate by
blinking his eyes in response to questions. One western scientist said that he knew
that the expertise was available for doing this for years but felt that it would be
abhorrent to subject a human to such an experiment.
- On the same topic on May 19,
1987, the United States Patent Office gave a patent to Chet Fleming of St. Louis, Missouri
for a device for perfusing an animal head. The device would allow the severed head
of a chimpanzee or monkey to be kept alive. In addition, it might be possible to use
this invention on terminally ill persons.
- T he summary of the invention
notes that: The invention relates to a device, referred to herein as a cabinet
which will provide physical and biochemical support for an animal's head which has been
discorporated or discorped (i.e. severed from its body).
This device can be used to supply a discorped head with oxygenated blood and
nutrients, by means of the tubes connected to arteries which pass through the neck.
If desired, the spine may be left attached to the discorped head...The severed head
preferably should retain all the sensory organs, and the vocal cords if desired... the
discorped head might experience a period of consciousness after it has been severed from
- I know this sounds sci-fi and
looks ghastly, but it demonstrates the ends to which we are capable of going in treating
living organisms as if they are comprised of parts.
- As I have tried to emphasize
repeatedly in the Health Letter, where you are
pointed is likely the trail you will take. If your philosophic orientation is that
the world is simply a composite of parts, this atomistic, reductionistic view that the
whole is really not greater than the parts but is simply a summation of them, then such
experimentation is a natural consequence. Given this philosophic orientation, there
becomes nothing morally or ethically wrong with such manipulations.
- To others who consider that the
whole is greater than the parts, and that respect, kindness and gentleness are virtues,
the thought of such experimentation on live sentient creatures or human beings is enough
to send chills up and down the (intact) spine.
Civil Abolitionist, Spring/Summer 1991
- German Measles Immunization
- Details from the case of Ruth
Blonder, a 46-year-old social worker who is suing Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois,
indicate that the hospital policy is for employees to be immunized against rubella (German
Measles) in order to protect pregnant hospital patients. This policy is enforced,
for lay personnel at least, to such a degree that she was fired from her job when she
refused to take the rubella shot, even though she is a social worker who mainly counsels
geriatric patients and has no contact with pregnant women.
- Mrs. Blonder is not just being
stubborn, but rather truly fears the inoculation. Her lawyer argues that she did
extensive research and found the vaccine could cause side effects, such as rheumatoid
arthritis which the U.S. government admits occurs in 2% of the people who take the
vaccine. A significant incidence of chronic arthritic symptoms occur in older women,
especially increasing with age. Additionally, the live rubella virus has been linked
to Epstein-Barr syndrome, often refereed to as Yuppie Disease.
- So, according to her lawyer,
Mrs. Blonder presented her findings to the hospital and asked that an exception be made in
her case. Instead of making an exception of her, they made an example of her; she
- Among her complaints, and part
of the thrust of her suit, is sexual discrimination. This arises because the vaccine
affects women most adversely, and yet women on staff are required by the hospital to take
it, while the doctors on staff, mostly men, are not required to take the vaccine - based
on a technicality that the hospital does not consider them employees.
Thus the absurd scenario is that the physician with his hands on the pregnant
patient isn't necessarily, and not even likely, vaccinated, but the woman mopping the
hallway floors was forced to be vaccinated.
- Indeed, shockingly enough -
especially since the Evanston Hospital and most other hospitals enforce vaccination
against rubella to ostensibly protect pregnant women - a study revealed more than a decade
ago that the doctors who had the lowest vaccination rate for the German Measles vaccine
were obstetrician/gynecologists. Less than 10% of the doctors in that specialty
were immunized. The next lowest rate - less than 1/3 of them - was among
pediatricians. Even the Journal of the American Medical Association printed an
admission, in an article written in 1981 entitled Rubella Vaccine and Susceptible
Hospital Employees: Poor Physician Participation, that physicians were not getting
vaccinated due to fear of unforeseen vaccine reactions. As more dangers
of vaccines are brought to light, fewer physicians are getting themselves and their own
- The suit between Ruth Blonder
and the Evanston Hospital promises to be a landmark case. It could accomplish two
important things: to help ensure that fairness and employment equity is part of the modern
medical community, and to bring awareness of vaccine dangers more into the public eye.
- One woman, instructed to
receive a rubella vaccine in Calgary when she applied for a marriage license, underwent
the inoculation obediently and trustingly. A few weeks later she began experiencing
swelling and pain first in her big toe, then her hands and wrists. A newly wed and
newly hired teacher, she became so disabled that she could not open a jar. The
arthritis, brought on as a direct result of the rubella vaccine, has now subsided but
lasted for five years. She writes: My whole world came crashing down. It
- AIDS From Doctors
- Wisdom: If you don't really know
what's in the syringe, or how you will react to it, don't permit its injection into your
- Like most of us, Kimberly Bergalis of Florida
trusted the medical community, and specifically trusted her dentist, Dr. Acer. What
she didn't know was that Dr. Acer had AIDS, just as a pregnant woman may not know her
doctor has rubella. In Kimberly's case, Dr. Acer passed the disease on to her.
This is what she wrote in an open letter to the medical community in April of this
- When I was diagnosed with
AIDS in December of '89, I was only 21 years old. It was the shock of my life and my
family's as well. I have lived to see my hair fall out, my body lose over 40 lbs.,
blisters on my sides. I've lived to go through nausea and vomiting, continual night
sweats, chronic fevers of 103-104 that don't go away anymore. I have cramping and
diarrhea. I now have confusion and forgetfulness. I have lived through the
torturous acne that infested my face and neck - brought on by AZT.
I have endured trips twice a week to Miami for three months
only to receive painful IV injections. I've had blood transfusions. I've had a
bone marrow biopsy. I cried my heart out from the pain of the biopsy.
I was infected by Dr. Acer in 1987. My life has been sheer hell
except for the good times and closeness with my family and my enjoyment for life and
nature. AIDS has slowly destroyed me. Unless a cure is found, I will be
another one of your statistics soon.
Who do I blame? Do I blame myself? I sure don't. I
never used IV drugs, never slept with anyone and never had a blood transfusion. I
blame Dr. Acer and every single one of you bastards. Anyone that knew that Dr. Acer
was infected and had full-blown AIDS and stood by not doing a damn thing about it.
You are all just as guilty as he was...
- In a 1987 interview, Dr. George
Lundberg, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association said,
If a patient asks an afflicted physician if he has AIDS, the physician is
under no ethical duty to tell the truth. Never buy a used car from this man.
- A Marshfield, Wisconsin surgeon
feels differently. Discovered to be HIV-positive, Dr. Ed Rozar, a former thoracic
surgeon, went on Good Morning America in July of this year to say, We have to stop
protecting people who have this disease. AIDS is not a civil rights matter.
Also in July, Rozar told the Milwaukee Journal, I knew in my heart I had to
stop performing surgery. Even if the risk of infecting a
patient was one in a million, I didn't think it was worth it.
- Unfortunately, not all doctors
agree: A dentist died recently in Nokomis, Illinois, and hundreds of patients learned that
he had AIDS when they read his obituary. A surgeon in Marshfield, Wisconsin who had
done about 800 coronary bypasses just recently notified his patients that he was exposed
to AIDS back in 1989. In Maryland, state officials are attempting to track down
thousands of prison inmates who were treated by a dentist who died of AIDS in May.
Similarly, a dentist died two years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and only when a
local television station obtained a copy of the dentist's death certificate was it
revealed that he had AIDS.
- While our monthly Health Letter format is not sufficient to really
follow AIDS, and I hesitate to just lightly touch upon such a ponderous
subject, I would like to give a quick summation of what we've been asked to blindly
believe about AIDS: First of all, government doctors told us that AIDS was transmissible
only through multiple homosexual contacts. Later, they admitted that heterosexual
transmission was possible. Most recently, the Center for Disease Control has admitted that
only one homosexual intercourse act is capable of resulting in AIDS transmission.
Initially, government doctors told us that only hemophiliacs and drug addicts were
endangered by needles and blood. Later, they admitted that blood transfusions
throughout the U.S. could be contaminated. Then, all blood products were suspect:
plasma, gamma globulin, and the new hepatitis vaccine. Most recently, doctors have
discovered the proven danger of AIDS possibly present in semen specimens used for
artificial insemination, as well as human organs used for transplants. Now, they
have announced the presence of the AIDS virus in human tears, saliva and sweat as well.
Hardly is there reason to believe anyone's pronouncements about what is or is not
- Unfortunately, there is
something of a caste system at work in our society. Most people have no problem
calling their mechanic on the carpet, so-to-speak, if their car isn't functioning well
after repair work. Most people hesitate only a bit to address their child's teacher,
or their hairdresser, or the house painters, about problems. But when it comes to
the communication and relationship we have with physicians, they can become more
inaccessible, more daunting, than anyone else we deal with. The irony, of course, is
that our lives, and not our turbo-charged engines, are on the line. If ever there
were a profession which should remain open to scrutiny and accountability for their work,
it is the medical profession. Yet it continues as exclusive, closed, awe-inspiring
and secretive. As the late Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, watchdog and critic of his own
profession, wrote a few years ago, The very term 'medical ethics' is an oxymoron (a
contradiction in terms.)
- The solution is to take charge
of your own medical destiny through study, exploration, and application.
Was Not Wiped Out By Vaccinations?
- Vaccinations are an emotionally
charged issue with strong political and economic overtones. Professionals
conventionally educated and trained, and lay people alike, have come to believe that
vaccinations are as important to our health as water. We tend to believe that the
scourges of the past have been vanquished as a result of vaccinations, and that
civilization always teeters on the brink of the plague with vaccinations being our only
safeguard. Parents who do not have their children vaccinated are viewed as potential
threats to the community. Physicians who question the value of these medical
measures are ostracized.
- One thing is certain. If
you embark on a study of vaccinations, exactly how they work, how they are made, their
relationship to the immune system, and the history of their usage, you will not find
- Let me give you one example
which I've touched on before in the Health Letter
regarding the use of statistics in relation to polio. Polio, unlike many other
infectious diseases which have experienced a decline in the past, cannot be explained away
by such things as sanitation, public water supplies, ventilation, nutrition, and so forth
since its incidence rose while these things were in place in developed countries.
The disease, in fact, seems to occur only among more civilized peoples with the
highest standards of sanitation.
- Jonas Salk, discoverer of the
polio vaccine, has been hailed as the savior of countless lives. In a folder
distributed by the Virginia State Department of Health, for example, we are told that the
polio vaccine reduced the incidence of polio in the United States from 18,000 cases of
paralytic polio in 1954 to fewer than 20 in the years 1973 to 1978. A recent article
in Modern Maturity states that in 1953 there were 15,600 cases of paralytic polio in the
United States and by 1957, due to the Salk vaccine, that number dropped to
- But, not everyone agrees that
the Salk vaccine is the cause of this decline. Dr. Bernard Greenberg, who testified
at the 1962 Congressional Hearings on HR 10541, stated that polio did not decline but that
statistics were simply manipulated.
- In 1957, a spokesman for the
North Carolina Health Department made claims about how polio had steadily decreased from
1953 to 1957 due to the polio vaccine. However, upon examination of immunizations in
this community, it was found that it was not until about 1956 that the vaccinations had
reached significant parts of the population. But, by 1954, there was already over a
61% drop in the number of polio cases. Thus, the vaccine was credited for the demise
of the disease prior to the time that the vaccine was even being used.
- Some other interesting
manipulations of language and data: for example, a polio epidemic was redefined as being
35 cases per 100,000 per year after the polio vaccine was introduced, whereas it was
defined as 20 cases per 100,000 population per year prior to the vaccination. Thus,
the epidemic could be cured simply by redefining how many infections in a population
constitute an epidemic.
- There was also a redefinition
of the disease. In order to be classified as paralytic poliomyelitis, the patient
had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for at least 60 days after the onset of the disease.
This was the definition after the introduction of the vaccine. But, before
the introduction of the vaccine the definition of paralytic polio was that the patient had
to exhibit the symptoms for only 24 hours. Prior to the vaccine, laboratory
confirmation on the presence of residual paralysis was not required. After the
vaccine, it was. Thus, in effect, it became more difficult to call symptoms
characteristic of polio after the vaccine was introduced. Thus, the diagnosis of the
disease and the disease was being eradicated by definition, not by medical intervention.
- Also, prior to introduction of
the vaccine, Coxsackie virus and aseptic meningitis were likely also labeled as paralytic
polio myelitis, whereas after the vaccine, they were differentiated.
- I've reproduced on the right
data from the Los Angeles County Health Index demonstrating that between 1955 and 1966
polio cases declined, whereas viral and aseptic meningitis increased. Notice that
the two are almost parallel, such that if what we would call polio would include both
viral and aseptic meningitis, as it did prior to the vaccine, there has actually been no
significant change in the number of cases of polio as it was previously defined.
- It is also interesting that
there have been other polio epidemics in the United States, not just the one in the 50's.
There was one in the teens, and there was one in the thirties, also. The
first two simply went away like other past epidemics have. Some researchers feel
that the Salk vaccine was simply able to take credit for a natural decline in the disease
which would have occurred whether or not the vaccine was introduced.
- Another consideration is that
it is believed that over 40% of our population is not immunized against polio. So
the question becomes why is polio not a significant disease at this time. Polio also
appeared in Europe in the 40's and 50's, but disappeared without mass vaccination.
It's also significant to understand that less than 10% of the people in the world
have been vaccinated against this disease. But, it is not the scourge that we would
be led to believe it should be without vaccination.
- As much as we would like to
take credit for control over nature with our technology, the evidence shows that we do
very little. There is a natural cycle of infectious disease. They decline as
the immunity of the population increases. Evidence shows, for example, that the
polio virus was virtually ubiquitous before the introduction of the vaccine, and could be
found in virtually any sample of city sewage that was examined. Thus, many believe
that natural immunity to polio was as close to being universal at the time the vaccine was
introduced as it could ever be. This was the true cause of the demise of the
- I know that this is a heated
and controversial subject, and it is like sacrilege to even suggest that something like
the polio vaccine may not be responsible for the demise of the disease.
- If receiving vaccinations were
absolutely innocuous, it would be one thing. But, it is not. Any manipulation,
any invasive procedure has its potential dangers. To circumvent the immune system by
placing viruses in the blood and giving them access to major immune organs and tissues
without giving our system any of its natural ways of ridding itself of the virus is indeed
an experiment. There are the potential immediate reactions to vaccines as I've
discussed with measles, or which has been fairly well publicized about the DPT vaccine.
But there are other, more subtle concerns about trying to bypass, for example, the
immune maturation process in young children. The long-term residence of viruses or
other foreign organisms within the cells of the immune system or other tissues is
suspected to be linked to a variety of chronic and degenerative diseases, including
rheumatoid arthritis (as we've mentioned is related to measles), multiple sclerosis,
systemic lupus erythematosis, Parkinson's disease, and perhaps even cancer.
- This makes sense. Many
vaccines are designed to be incorporated into the genetic material of our own cells.
The basic function of the immune system is to differentiate between self and
nonself. Vaccinations create a situation where nonself has been accepted into our
genetic material, thus confusing the clear delineation between self and non-self.
This can perhaps set the stage for autoimmunity or self-attack, and thus, the
precipitation of various diseases.
- These are all serious
considerations and certainly deserving of further evaluation by anyone who is concerned
about taking control of their own health destiny. Caveat emptor let the buyer
beware applies even when we're buying supposed set-in-stone truths like the reason
we don't get polio is because technology has given us a vaccine.
Immunization - The Reality Behind the Myth,
Bergin & Garvey, 1988
Maturity, December 1984: 82
Hearings before the Committee on Interstate and
Foreign Commerce, 87th Congress, Second Session on H.R. 10541, May 1962: 94