Chinese vaccine scandal – not a concern for USA and many other countries

Chinese vaccine scandal

Recently, a Chinese vaccine scandal has been reported in many news sources. According to these reports, a Chinese vaccine manufacturer produced and marketed “low-quality” vaccines for infants. Moreover, they falsified production and inspection data on a rabies vaccine – as I’ve written before, rabies is a deadly disease, with almost 100% mortality after symptoms appear,  and the vaccine is the only choice to save lives.

This is an appalling story on so many levels. Authorities in the country had lax enforcement and regulation of their vaccine industry – the government was attacked on social media about the situation, a rarity in a communist country where free speech is strictly limited. As a result, the Chinese government will begin regulating their vaccine manufacturers more closely, although it may be too little and too late.

On the other hand, Hong Kong utilizes mostly “Western” manufactured vaccines, which has led to many Chinese citizens going to that autonomous region to get their children vaccinated. There are websites devoted to showing how parents can avoid Chinese vaccines and get the “good stuff.”

These kinds of outrageous ethical lapses generally do not happen in the USA, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and many other countries. Falsifying data can lead to severe criminal prosecution and civil penalties, something that is far beyond the response from Chinese authorities to this scandal.

Of course, this has led to one of the most ridiculous myths of the anti-vaccine world – our vaccines are dangerous because they were manufactured in China. Under most circumstances, this would be a laughable myth, but with this Chinese vaccine scandal, it’s important that we know where our vaccines are manufactured – spoiler alert, they are made in the USA, Europe, Canada, and Japan, all of which have strict regulation of the pharmaceutical industry. Continue reading “Chinese vaccine scandal – not a concern for USA and many other countries”

Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study

autoimmune diseases

There are so many outlandish and unsupported claims about the HPV vaccine, it’s difficult to keep up with them all. One of the most outrageous lies about the HPV vaccine is that it causes autoimmune diseases, despite the robust epidemiological or clinical evidence that firmly establishes the safety of the HPV vaccine, especially with respect to autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the immune system has an abnormal response to normal cells in the body. Celiac disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions are as a result of an autoimmune disorder. We don’t know what causes the autoimmunity, but there is almost no biological plausibility that any vaccine could induce the disease.

Despite the lack of a reasonable biological mechanism leading from the HPV vaccine to any of the multitudes of autoimmune diseases, the anti-vaccine forces continue to try to establish a link. For example, Yehuda Shoenfeld has pushed a ridiculed hypothesis that the vaccine causes something he calls autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). Not a single respected scientist buys into ASIA, and Shoenfeld has presented no vigorous clinical or epidemiological evidence supporting its existence.

Not to pile onto the anti-vaccine tropes about the vaccine, but a large, and new, Canadian study has once again shown us that there are no links between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases. This adds to the body of evidence that, for real science, reinforces the conclusion that the HPV vaccine is an incredibly safe vaccine. Continue reading “Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study”

Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

Canola oil causes Alzheimer's disease

Food fads make me want to scream, cry, and hide in a cabin in the mountains. MSG is safe. And high fructose corn syrup is just an awful name for sugar. And only a small number of people have a real gluten sensitivity. And now a new paper has caused the internet to explode with the trope that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease.

This new internet meme is based on a peer-reviewed article published in a real journal. But as I have written time and again, just because an article seems like it has sterling credentials, it doesn’t mean the article is above criticism. We’ll get to this article below.

As expected, all of the usual suspects in the pseudoscience world have jumped on board with clickbait headlines like, “Scientists finally issue warning against canola oil: Study reveals it is detrimental to brain health, contributes to dementia, causes weight gain.” I always find it ironic when a pseudoscience pushing website believes in scientists when it supports their belief.

Of course, we need to take a look at this whole issue. Here’s my spoiler alert (but please read the whole article) – there is little evidence that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia. You can use it safely. Continue reading “Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence”

Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it

Genevieve Rail

Here we go again. We recently wrote about Diane Harper, another “lead developer” of the HPV vaccines, who has a rather complicated view on HPV vaccines. She makes disparaging remarks about the vaccine, yet her peer reviewed publications are generally favorable to the HPV vaccine. Genevieve Rail, a kinesiology researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the next one being pushed by anti-vaccine activists.

Outrageous claims are made about Genevieve Rail’s expertise with HPV vaccines, like Gardasil. And she helps with the claims by making outlandish comments about the vaccine:

“I’m sort of raising a red flag, out of respect for what I’ve found in my own study, and for the despair of parents who had totally perfect 12-year-olds who are now in their beds, too tired to go to school. Yes, we’re going against the grain, and we are going against those who are believed, i.e. doctors and nurses and people in public health.”

So here we go again, another darling of the anti-vaccine world. Time to look into who Genevieve Rail is. And does she have any standing in the scientific knowledge about the HPV vaccine. Continue reading “Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it”

Import Canadian drugs – another half-baked idea that won’t work

Import Canadian drugs

That old Senate gadfly, Bernie Sanders, tried to win points as the self-proclaimed leader of the Democratic party by proposing a naive and impractical amendment to the Senate health care law to allow Americans to import Canadian drugs. The amendment specifically stated that it would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada.”

The Amendment failed but not in the way you could imagine. Actually, 12 Republican Senators supported it, which in this environment of politics is nearly a miracle. You’d think that it would have passed, but it didn’t. Thirteen Democrats voted against the Amendment, which caused it to fail.

The liberal internet decided to come down hard on Senator Cory Booker of NJ, because just a day before he had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the nomination of the backwards Jefferey Sessions for Attorney General, so how dare the perfect liberal not be perfect on everything. Senator Booker voted against the amendment for good reasons, though the crazy liberal media is fairly angry at him. And of course, the meme-makers had to pull out the old Big Pharma Shill Gambit, accusing all thirteen Democrats of being pawns of Big Pharma.

To be fair to Senator Booker, his office issued a statement to the media after the vote. It said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.”

In other words Sen. Booker and others are saying that, before we import Canadian drugs, let’s make sure they are safe. Yes, Canada’s drug distribution is fairly safe, but it’s not perfect. There are a lot of issues of safety that should be considered (and Sanders did not, because I’m beginning to be convinced his analytical skills are weak). But there’s a bigger concern – would Canada allow this to happen, and why would they? And that is the concern that Sanders failed to acknowledge.

Let me be absolutely clear. The USA needs some sort of drug pricing regulation, although I doubt it will happen under the Trump administration for lots of reasons.

Setting aside the positives and negatives of this amendment, let’s take a look at whether we can or should import Canadian drugs. Continue reading “Import Canadian drugs – another half-baked idea that won’t work”

Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted

antivaccine hate speech on Paul Offit

The antivaccine hate speech is a fundamental strategy of their vaccine denialism. I’ve spoken about it before, but the vitriolic attacks on Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a frequent contributor here and a renowned expert on vaccines and law, any time she speaks about vaccines has moved into the surreal.

Although I lack no statistics per se, I’d say that the anti-vaccine hate speech has focused on a few individuals – Professor Reiss, Dr. Paul Offit, Brian Deer, and in a group just slightly below, important skeptics like Dr. David Gorski and some chap named Orac.

Just as an aside, there used to be an amusing trend on Wikipedia whereby pseudoscience-pushing editors would accuse various editors of being the real Dr. Gorski. One of my sockpuppets was accused of being that, which made me laugh. I am not, nor have I ever been, David Gorski. Though I admit my ego is gratified to be thrown into the same conspiracy theories with an esteemed researcher and physician, even if it’s proposed by tinfoil hat wearing lunatics.

But the crazies have become, if this is possible, crazier. Stay tuned. Continue reading “Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted”

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”

Gardasil prevents cancer – more evidence

There are lots of quacks out on the internet that make all kinds of nonsense claims about how to prevent cancer. Eat blueberries. Eat kale. Eat GMO-free, organic blueberry kale soy sherbet.

I’ll bet there are thousands of claims made by charlatans to prevent cancer. But really, there are just a handful of ways to actually prevent cancer. Avoid tobacco smoke. Avoid the sun. Keep a healthy low weight. Avoid alcohol.

And get the HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil. Yes, Gardasil prevents cancer (actually, there are two, the other being the hepatitis B vaccine, but we’ll get to that in another article).

Now, there is even more evidence, from a huge research study, that supports the fact that Gardasil prevents cancer in young women.

Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer – more evidence”

Gardasil prevents cancer–does not lead to risky sexual activity

hpv-vaccine-cancer-CDCThere are really few ways to keep your children from contracting cancer. Make sure they don’t smoke. Keep them out of the sun. Watch their weight and maintain it at healthy levels. Don’t let them near radiation.

And vaccinate them against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes over 5% of the cancers world wide. Gardasil, which is now a more powerful anti-cancer vaccine, is available throughout most of the world and is indicated for use in girls and boys to prevent a variety of dangerous and disfiguring cancers. Lots of people think there are magical supplements and foods that prevent cancer, but there’s little or no science that supports it. If you want a magical prevention, there’s nothing better than getting Gardasil (known as Silgard in some parts of the world).

Parents who wouldn’t be considered to be antivaccination are frequently reluctant or even solidly negative to giving their children the HPV vaccine. Admittedly, some of the reluctance about the vaccine is based on some misinformation and outright myths about the safety of the vaccine. Without a doubt the HPV vaccine is extremely safe as shown in several huge epidemiological studies of young men and women who have received the vaccine. And we know that the vaccine prevents HPV infections. Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer–does not lead to risky sexual activity”

About that tryptophan and turkey making you sleepy–not so fast

turkey-dinnerA tiny handful of countries, most notably the US and Canada, celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. In the USA, the holiday is held on the fourth Thursday in November and more or less starts the so called holiday season which ends with New Year. In most of Canada (excluding the Atlantic provinces), the holiday is held on the second Monday in October.

For trivia purposes only, the other places that celebrate a similar Thanksgiving are Liberia (which is populated by descendants of freed slaves who returned to Africa from the US), Grenada (a small English-speaking island in the Caribbean), Puerto Rico (a Spanish-speaking territory of the USA), and Norfolk Island Australia. Australia?

Generally, the holiday celebrates white English settlers arriving in North America. The tales usually include some peaceful sharing of food between the white settlers and native Americans (a nice myth without much actual historical support) prior to the first winter. Canada’s back story on Thanksgiving is much more complicated, including ships getting stuck in ice and other legends.

In both Canada and the USA, the celebration includes tons of food (per person) including a roast (usually) turkey. Other foods may include mashed potatoes, yams (sweet potatoes), other meats, pies, corn, stuffing, and more food. It is a high calorie meal of epic portions!

There’s a legend that eating this meal, specifically the turkey, fills your body with tryptophan, and you fall asleep.

Nice story, but the science of eating, sleeping and turkeys doesn’t support this myth. Not even close. Continue reading “About that tryptophan and turkey making you sleepy–not so fast”