Child food allergies – time to revise our recommendations and thinking

child food allergies

When I was in public school in the 1970s, I honestly recall few kids with food allergies. Today, child food allergies are so high, some school system ban peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And if you’re an American, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are an iconic lunch food for school age children.

My recollection of few of any child food allergies when I was a child myself. As an anecdote, that’s not too powerful, but it’s borne out by actual scientific data. For example, Australian children have the highest rate of food allergy in the world, with up to 10% of infants and 20% of school-aged children who have been diagnosed with a food allergy. Large studies, including a retrospective study of over 1 million children in the USA, have shown that overall food allergy prevalence was 6.7%. The most common allergenic foods were peanuts (2.6%), milk (2.2%), egg (1.8%), shellfish (1.5%), and soy (0.7%). Furthermore, food allergies were associated with development of respiratory issues such as asthma (2.16X risk over those without food allergies) and rhinitis (2.72X risk).

In Australia, there has been a 50% increase in hospital visits for anaphylaxis from 1998 to 2012, the most severe allergic reaction. Infants and toddlers accounted for much of this increase. Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic reaction to anything including food.

What stumps a lot of researchers is why the increase? Has our food supply become more allergenic? Some blame the addition of GMOs to our food supply, but that’s nonsense. In fact, some very good research may point us toward new recommendations to prevent child food allergies.

Continue reading “Child food allergies – time to revise our recommendations and thinking”

HPV vaccine effectiveness – cervical cancer rate halved in 10 years

HPV vaccine effectiveness

The first cancer prevention vaccine was administered in Australia exactly 10 years ago. Since that day, the HPV cancer prevention vaccine as been sold in 130 countries across the world. As a result, HPV vaccine effectiveness has been so high, that the rate of cervical pre-cancerous lesions has been cut in half.

This should be celebrated. As I’ve said at least a few times, the ways to reduce your actual cancer risk is limited. And it does not include drinking a kale-blueberry shake every morning. The real ways to reduce your risk of cancer can be as easy as staying out of the sun to stopping smoking. But the HPV vaccine is one of the most critical tools in the “war on cancer.”

Let’s take a look at the HPV cancer prevention vaccine and how effective it actually has been on cervical cancer. Continue reading “HPV vaccine effectiveness – cervical cancer rate halved in 10 years”

HPV vaccination schedule caused decline in infection rates

HPV vaccination schedule

Unless you’re a noobie to this blog and website, you probably know I’m a big proponent of the human papillomavirus (HPV) anti-cancer vaccine, usually known as Gardasil or Cervarix. And now we have more evidence that the HPV vaccination schedule has caused a significant drop in HPV infection rates in teens.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the USA. There are more than 40 HPV sub-types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. Additionally, some HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. HPV is generally transmitted from personal contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

HPV is linked to many dangerous cancers in both men and women, such as penile, cervical, anal, mouth and throat cancers. In fact, HPV is believed to cause nearly 5% of all new cancers across the world, making it almost as frightening as tobacco for causing cancer.

Because HPV is so prevalent in adults, blocking the infection in pre-teens, teens and young adults can eventually lower the cancer rate for all HPV-related cancers. Maybe one day, it can be wiped out, like many other infectious diseases just through vaccination.

The evidence that Gardasil and the HPV vaccination schedule are safe and effective is almost overwhelming. Sure, there are a few myths here and there about the vaccine that require occasional debunking. However, there are so few methods to actually prevent cancer – the HPV vaccine, by blocking HPV infections, is one of the best methods to prevent some of the nastiest cancers.

Continue reading “HPV vaccination schedule caused decline in infection rates”

Homeopathy, Honesty, and Consumer Protection

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2015. It has been revised to include information from a recent Australian Federal Court ruling that imposed fines upon the homeopaths.

On December 22, 2014 an Australian Federal Court ruled that Homeopathy Plus! Pty Ltd, LTD, and its creator and director, Ms. Frances Sheffield, engaged in misleading conduct in trade or commerce in making claims against the whooping cough vaccine and in support of homeopathic remedies as an alternative – or a second line of defense – for preventing whooping cough.

This was done after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) asked the court to declare that it’s misleading and impose other penalties (detailed description of the court proceedings, and more information). In other words, they were asked to look into homeopathy honesty.

This article has two objectives:

  1. Provide a brief overview and summary of the decision.
  2. Determine whether similar action can be taken against those making similar claims in the United States.

Continue reading “Homeopathy, Honesty, and Consumer Protection”

HPV vaccine prevents cancer in men – good news

The HPV vaccine prevents cancer – this is not surprising information, because the wealth of evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine is approaching unassailable. Of course, many people make claims about various cures for and prevention of cancer on the internet, but seriously there are just a handful of ways to prevent cancer. And one of them is getting the HPV vaccine.

Most of the early data was in reduction of cancer rates, especially for cervical cancer, in women. Part of this bias was because the HPV vaccine was originally just indicated for girls and young women. But more recently, the vaccine was approved in most areas of the world to be used with boys and young men.

However, a new study is out that gives us more evidence that the vaccine will prevent cancer in men. And that’s more good news if you’re looking for an effective way to prevent some cancers.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine prevents cancer in men – good news”

The results are in – homeopathy is water, overpriced water

This article about homeopathy has been substantially updated and republished. The comments on this version has been closed. Please go to the new article for newer information and to comment

I intensely dislike all forms of medical quackery. Of course, my passionate, full-throated, defense of the scientific consensus on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is fairly obvious. There are literally mountains of evidence that support my skepticism of the antivaccine beliefs.

But there’s more junk medicine out there than the pseudoscience pushers running around the vaccine world. One of my favorite ones is homeopathy. It is a scam that tries to convince people that a vial of nothing more than water (and sometimes ethanol) has some magical medical properties. And it’s expensive water, much more expensive than some bottled water that claims it’s bottled at the source of some glacier in the Alps.

Continue reading “The results are in – homeopathy is water, overpriced water”

Worldwide vaccine uptake-2014


I make it a point to update this blog with the most current CDC analysis of vaccine uptake in the USA for kindergarten children (usually around 5 years old). Generally, the numbers have stayed stable, at around 95% vaccinated, although there is high variance from state to state, and locality to locality. The weakness in the vaccination uptake in the USA is that some areas may approach 100% vaccinated, but then other areas may be 50%, which makes those areas with low vaccine uptake susceptible to a quick spread of diseases that are not endemic to the USA (such as measles, polio, and others) through that unvaccinated population.

Given the 95% vaccine uptake rate, it begs the questions of why I push so hard for vaccination–because I want to protect the lives of children, and those 5% who aren’t vaccinated are at risk of serious disease and even death. And vaccines are the safest way to protect a child–protect them from death.

Nearly 55% of the readers of this blog are not American (a couple of years ago,this blog got a regular reader from Iran, which meant that all countries were represented amongst this blog’s readers). I have been accused of being a bit American-centric, but at the same time, I was also curious about vaccine uptake worldwide.  Continue reading “Worldwide vaccine uptake-2014”

Free HPV vaccine causes 61% drop in female genital warts in Australia

gardasil-one-less-advertisingAs I’ve written on many occasions, the HPV quadrivalent vaccine is one of the great achievements of medical science. It protects young men and women against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the USA. There are over 170 subtypes of HPV; however, HPV subtypes 16 and 18 not only cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, but they are linked to most anal (95% linked to HPV), vulvar (50% linked), vaginal (65% linked), oropharyngeal (60% linked) and penile (35% linked) cancers. HPV is estimated to be the cause of nearly 5% of all new cancers across the world.

One of the signs of HPV infection as a STI is the appearance of genital warts, and if there is a drop in the occurrence of genital warts in a population, we can assume that there could be a concomitant drop in the risk of these cancers. And we go back to the HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil or Silgard.

In an article just published in PLOS ONE, General Practitioners (GPs) in Australia are managing 61% fewer cases of genital warts among young women since the introduction of a national HPV vaccination program in Australia, which provides the vaccine for free. Read that carefully, if you’re a vaccine denier, or even more specifically one of those “I fully vaccinate my children, but I don’t think Gardasil is important, because my kids will NEVER be sexually active” types. A 61% reduction. Continue reading “Free HPV vaccine causes 61% drop in female genital warts in Australia”

Why we vaccinate–to protect those children who can’t be vaccinated

One of the most selfish and narcissistic tropes of the antivaccination cult is that “if your child is vaccinated why do you need to worry about mine.” Setting aside the fact that the vaccine denier can make that arrogant statement because most of the community is vaccinated so her children are protected by the herd effect, it ignores the fact that not every child is vaccinated.

queensland-health-minister-geoff-wilsonChildren who are under the age of 3-6 months either have not or just received the DTaP vaccine against whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), so they are susceptible to adults, teenagers and other children who might be passing along the disease. Moreover, vaccines are not 100% effective (this does not mean that they are 0% effective, just that it’s not perfect), so some people may be vaccinated but still can catch the disease.

But there are also children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and they are vulnerable to infectious diseases, even the flu. In a recent story, the Brisbane Australia Courier Mail reported about a three year child, Lachlan, who, because of a liver transplant that may leave him immunosuppressed for the rest of his life and unable to get vaccinated, must be protected against those children that might carry diseases that could kill this child. To be clear, because vaccine deniers tend to have no knowledge of real science, this child cannot be vaccinated not because the vaccines would harm him, it’s because his immune system cannot develop the adaptive immune response, so the vaccines are useless.

His parents, Chris and Nelia Hay, must be extraordinarily vigilant in protecting young Lachlan. Another child, whose parents may listen to the reprehensible Meryl Dorey, may not be vaccinated and pass along the “harmless measles,” which could kill Lachlan. Every sniffle. Every rash. Anything seen on another child must make the Hays stiffen with fear.

And when Lachlan heads off to a school, his parents will probably have to choose a school with extraordinarily high vaccination rates. Not that I would actually recommend this, but Mississippi, which doesn’t allow any vaccine exemptions except medical ones, has a nearly 99% vaccination rate. Lachlan would be safe there from the ignorance of antivaccination lunatics.

Society and political entities evolved to protect the individual citizen (OK, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative). We vaccinate not only to protect the ones we love, but also to protect the ones we don’t know. Vaccines work, and we have scientific evidence supporting. Vaccines are safer than almost any medical intervention out there, and we have evidence supporting that. To not vaccinate is simply wrong.


Visit the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.

Australian vaccine denier group changes name–still a lie



Thanks to StopAVN.
Thanks to StopAVN.

About a year ago, Meryl Dorey, Australia’s infamous American-born vaccine denialist and anti-science promoter, and her Australian anti-Vaccine Network (AVN) was ordered to change its misleading name or be shut down. The New South Wales (an Australian state) Office of Fair Trading left an order at the home of AVN  president Meryl Dorey yesterday with a letter of action, “labeling the network’s name misleading and a detriment to the community.” Given Dorey’s, and by extension the AVN’s, well known antivaccination stance, this order wasn’t surprising.

Dorey and AVN attempted to fight the order through Australian courts, but lost. And was recently ordered to pay A$11,000 in court costs to cover the legal fees of Stop the Australian Vaccination Network campaigner Dan Buzzard after he appealed against an apprehended violence order she took out against him last year. She actually then went to AVN and begged for money to pay for it, since I guess she does not get the Big Pharma shill money. Amusingly, the group, formerly known as the Australian Vaccine Network, and their leader/mouthpiece, Meryl Dorey, kept prevaricating about changing the name. But finally the Australian government ordered her to change the name or there will be consequences. 

Finally, Meryl and gang renamed their group the Australian Vaccine-Skeptics Network (still abbreviated as AVN). Ironically, Meryl and AVN first tried to name the group the “Australian Vaccine Sceptics Network”, using the Australian English spelling of the word, but a real skeptic (or sceptic) already owned that name. In even more irony, Meryl called the real owners of the trade name, a “hate group.” No, she really said that given Meryl and her group are the definition of a hate group. Continue reading “Australian vaccine denier group changes name–still a lie”