Skip to content
Home » Medicine » Neurological » Page 3

Neurological

leroy neurological disorders

LeRoy neurological disorders – PANDAS, vaccines, and whatever?

In spring 2012, I had written a few articles about a mystery neurological ailment that had struck about 20 teenagers at a high school and surrounding area in LeRoy, NY, a small town about 30 minutes from the city of Rochester. They suffered tics that mimicked Tourette syndrome, but was never diagnosed as such. Most of them have recovered, although two new cases have appeared. It’s been five years, so let’s update the news about the LeRoy neurological disorders.

I first wrote this article in 2013, yet it continues to be one of the top read articles on this blog. I’m not sure why, it may be because the outbreak was blamed on many factors that cross paths with internet conspiracies about health. Like vaccines.

Since this article about the LeRoy neurological disorders is so popular, I decided to update it (and clean up the huge number of broken links). I have also looked at the recent news about “outbreak,” and I will post links to some of the more intriguing hypotheses here.

Entering the Way-back Machine, let’s see what has happened in the past, just to catch everyone up.Read More »LeRoy neurological disorders – PANDAS, vaccines, and whatever?

marijuana treatment

Marijuana treatment of PTSD and chronic pain – probably does not work

I’ve written extensively about marijuana treatment for various diseases. For example, using it to prevent or treat cancer? No clinical evidence support its use. In fact, a large review of published science on medical marijuana showed little evidence of it having a clinical benefit except for just a few conditions, one of which was chronic pain.

Apparently, there is little scientific evidence to draw conclusions about the benefits and harms of marijuana treatment for patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain, according to two studies published recently in the respected journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Let’s take a look at these two articles and determine what they say about marijuana treatment of PTSD and chronic pain.Read More »Marijuana treatment of PTSD and chronic pain – probably does not work

polio-like illness

Polio-like illness emerging in California – not vaccine related

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus, a human enterovirus, that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis. Because polio has no cure, the polio vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and the only way to stop the disease from spreading. In a case study that will be presented at the 2014 American Academy of Neurology meeting, researchers report the discovery of a polio-like illness that has been found in a cluster of children from California over a one-year period.

This outbreak isn’t a result of anyone’s refusal to be vaccinated against polio, since all of the children in this study had been previously vaccinated against the poliovirus.

The United States last experienced a polio epidemic in the 1950s, prior to the introduction of the polio vaccine 60 years ago. Today, polio has been eradicated from most of the planet, as the number of worldwide polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 223 in 2012—a decline of more than 99% in reported cases.
Read More »Polio-like illness emerging in California – not vaccine related

Gardasil causes behavioral issues

Gardasil causes behavioral issues – more myth debunking

This article has been updated and can be found here. The comments for this article have been closed permanently.

I could have a full-time job just debunking the rumors and myths about the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, Gardasil. I’d bet one year of my Big Pharma Shill Income™ that the anti-vaccination gangsters make up more junk science about Gardasil than all other vaccines put together. And now, bogus claims that Gardasil causes behavior issues – time for a critical analysis.

This new claim about Gardasil arises from an article, “Behavioral abnormalities in young female mice following administration of aluminum adjuvants and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil,” published in the well respected, relatively high impact factor, journal Vaccine. When it was first published, my thoughts were that the editors of Vaccine missed something. Given that it’s been “temporarily removed,” I guess they did.

But let’s look at this claim with our critical thinking skills, which most of the readers here have.

Read More »Gardasil causes behavioral issues – more myth debunking

trace amounts

Review of Trace Amounts – bad science and conspiracies

Opponents of legislation to tighten school immunization requirements have been promoting a movie called Trace Amounts to legislators and others. They seem to think this movie proves a link between thimerosal – a mercury-based preservative in vaccines – and autism. It shows, in their view, that our vaccine program is corrupt and harmful through and through, and hence is an argument against vaccine mandates. The movie, however, shows nothing of the sort. There is no new evidence in it, and it simply repeats old and disproven claims.

Read More »Review of Trace Amounts – bad science and conspiracies

National Football League and concussions

National Football League and concussions – let’s review

On 25 December 2015, Concussion, a movie about the National Football League and concussions to its players, will premiere in theaters in the USA. The movie is about Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist, who, while working as a neuropathologist at the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Coroner’s Office examined the brains of several deceased National Football League (NFL) players. He was the first to publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players.

For those of you who ignore the sport, or find it an American curiosity, it is a very violent sport where 160 kg (about 350 lb) men, running and moving at the speed of world class Olympic athletes, hit other men moving at the same speed.

The game is complex (don’t even think that these young men are stupid, they have to memorize and quickly read hundreds of play combinations just for one game), much like an intricate ballet. Those who belittle the sport don’t understand its elaborate and convoluted movements combined with its brutal and gladiatorial combat.

It’s also a huge business. The National Football League owns Sundays, generating revenue in excess of US$12 billion from TV contracts, merchandise sales, and licensing. It’s difficult to tell what profits it generates (it’s a private “non-profit” corporation), but it’s estimated to be around $1 billion per year.

Put it another way, the second most valuable sports franchise in the world is the Dallas Cowboys, who are estimated to have a value of around US$3.2 billion. Just as a comparison, for those of you who are not Americans, the most valuable sports franchise in the world is the soccer team, Real Madrid, which is valued at US$3.26 billion, just slightly ahead of the Cowboys.

The NFL is such a powerful economic force, that they are very careful with their image, despite ongoing issues with domestic violence and other problems. It was amusing to watch how ESPN, the USA’s leading cable sports network, dealt with the movie about the National Football League and concussions since the network paid the NFL over US$15 billion for TV rights for the next few years. ESPN is reluctant to criticize the NFL for anything, but it also needs advertisers like the promoters of the new movie.

But this isn’t about sports per se. Let’s look at the science behind the claims made by Dr. Bennet Omalu. Let’s look at the credibility of these claims and refutations.

Read More »National Football League and concussions – let’s review

Antidepressants cause autism

Antidepressants cause autism – another red flag

The headlines are screaming again, ANTIDEPRESSANTS CAUSE AUTISM !!!!!!!!!!!!! (approximate average number of exclamation marks per article). Of course, a critical analysis of the the underlying study that caused the headlines is more nuanced and may not say what you think it says.

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, which is described in detail in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 redefined autism spectrum disorder to encompass diagnoses of autismAsperger syndromepervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder. Generally, symptoms of these disorders include social deficits and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.

The scientific consensus for the causes of autism has centered on genetic factors, generally several genes. This hasn’t stopped a whole host of claims as to what causes autism. Emily Willingham wrote an article a few years ago with the title, This just in: Being alive linked to autism, in which she lists 30 recent claims of what causes autism. It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.

Of course, we cannot overlook the old canard that vaccines cause autism. Which is about as untrue as a claim can be in science.

So what about this new claim about antidepressants and autism spectrum disorder? It’s based on a study just published in JAMA Pediatrics, a relatively high impact factor (approximately 7.148) and selective peer-reviewed journal.

The results from the may be significant, but possibly a critical analysis of the article will give us a different perspective.Read More »Antidepressants cause autism – another red flag

Why we vaccinate – pertussis and epilepsy are linked

There is really only one reason to vaccinate – protecting everyone, especially children, from dangerous vaccine preventable diseases. We have eliminated smallpox. We have almost eliminated polio.

And we had almost made measles extinct, until the myth that the MMR vaccine (to prevent mumps, measles and rubella) caused autism, started by one of sciences greatest fraudsters, the defrocked MrAndy Wakefield. It’s a myth that’s been thoroughly and definitively debunked.

One vaccine preventable infectious disease that we’ve been unable to conquer is  whooping cough (caused by the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis), also known as pertussis. Pertussis is a relatively dangerous infection, the disease itself has serious consequences for children and adults:

  • 1 in 4 (23%) get pneumonia (lung infection)
  • 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will have convulsions (violent, uncontrolled shaking)
  • Two thirds (67%) will have apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
  • 1 in 300 (0.4%) will have encephalopathy (disease of the brain)
  • 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will die

Whooping cough can be easily prevented by the DTaP or Tdap vaccines (which also protect against tetanus and diphtheria). The vaccines can be given to infants as early as 6 weeks to 2 months old.

As with all medical procedures, there are some adverse effects with the pertussis vaccines. Moderate adverse effects from the vaccine occur in about 1 in 10,000 (or even fewer) injections. The most severe effects, which may or may not be causally related to the vaccine since the rate is  so low, are in the range of 1 out of a million doses.

One out of one million doses of the vaccine cause a serious adverse event (maybe). Compare that to the 1-2 out of 100 will die of the disease. Unless you flunk math, there is no rational reason to avoid the vaccine.Read More »Why we vaccinate – pertussis and epilepsy are linked

The breadth and depth of vaccine research

I have frequently stated that the breadth and depth of vaccine research, which provides solid evidence on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, overwhelms the misinformation, logical fallacies, and conspiracies pushed by the Society for Promotion of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (that is, the antivaccine cult).

In other words, there is so much evidence, published in generally respected, high quality journals, that it is the basis of a pure, 24-karat gold scientific consensus about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Using just one search parameter, vaccines + efficacy + safety, there are over 4200 articles published over the past 55 years on vaccines. Other search parameters show even more results.

As I’ve said time and again, the only thing that matters to science is the quality and quantity of repeated evidence derived from a broad range of different studies. We’ve got that.Read More »The breadth and depth of vaccine research

Part 6. Medical uses for cannabis – the TL;DR version

This is Part 6  of a series of six articles discussing various medical uses for cannabis or marijuana. In this part, I summarize all of the five previous articles into some bullet points so that you have quick and fast access to some scientific information about medical uses for cannabis or marijuana.

In case you missed them, here are the first five articles in this series:

Part 1. Marijuana and medicine assessing the science.

Part 2. Marijuana and cancer – assessing the science

Part 3. Marijuana and neurological disorders – assessing the science

Part 4. Marijuana and health risks – assessing the science

Part 5. Marijuana and pregnancy – assessing the science

Maybe you don’t agree with the science about marijuana’s role in medicine. But that’s not how science works. The evidence should lead you to a conclusion (actually, the acceptance or rejection of a hypothesis). One shouldn’t form an a prior conclusion, then go hunt for data. That’s not how it works.

As new systematic or meta reviews bring more clinical evidence of the benefits of the medical uses for cannabis – this takes time – maybe evidence based medicine can incorporate marijuana into the armamentarium of medical practice. But only real clinical evidence matters.

So let’s review where the evidence leads us.Read More »Part 6. Medical uses for cannabis – the TL;DR version