Mercury, a poisonous heavy metal and powerful neurotoxin, has long given doctors and environmentalists cause for concern. It is present in the environment, in fish, household products, medications, make-up, and vaccines where, in the form of thimerosal, it is used as a preservative for its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Recent research at Columbia University (1) found autism-like damage in the brains of mice exposed to thimerosal. The study, in Molecular Psychiatry, used animals that had been bred to be vulnerable to developing disorders of the immune system. They argued it was possible that children with similarly compromised immunity may also be at risk of autism from exposure to the neurotoxc effects of mercury.
Other US and European studies (2,3) finding no link between mercury and autism or other neurological damage, claim however that he scientific evidence is not yet sufficiently strong to provide the same level of assurance for thiomersal-containing vaccines for use in pregnant women, or premature or low birth weight infants. “It is not possible to prove that thiomersal is completely safe - epidemiology can only quantify a risk, not prove its absence” (3).
The UK Government is now replacing a vaccine containing mercury given to eight-week-old babies with a five-in-one combined vaccine. The move comes amid fears of a link with mercury and autism, leading to a decrease in compliance for infant vaccination, and has been widely welcomed by anti-mercury pressure groups. The UK Department of Health has always maintained that there is no evidence of a link, but that the new vaccine is “more effective”. According to a BMJ editorial,
“regulatory bodies have recommended its [thiomersal] removal in accordance with the precautionary principle as long as this is not to the detriment of the vaccine programme” (4).
The new vaccine will also dispense with use of the live polio vaccine, currently given by mouth, to an injectable "killed" vaccine to avoid spreading the polio virus. The five-in-one injection will contain vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib and polio, and is to be introduced when current vaccine stocks are depleted.
The UK National Autistic Society said it had always "supported moves to ensure that mercury is not used" in vaccines. Thimerosal is however still used in some vaccines (5).
The Columbia University study says: “The developing brain is uniquely susceptible to the neurotoxic hazard posed by mercurials. Host differences in maturation, metabolism, nutrition, sex, and autoimmunity influence outcomes.” Mice bred to have poor immunity showed amongst other effects, “exaggerated response to novelty”. The researchers concluded that “these findings implicate genetic influences and provide a model for investigating thimerosal-related neurotoxicity”. The animals in the study had been bred to be vulnerable to developing disorders of the immune system.
Toxins should not ideally be routinely introduced into the population, but as mercury toxicity is now known to be influenced by genetics this is surely a reason to remove it from all vaccines.
High-dose probiotics have been shown to be an effective adjunct to chelation therapy when detoxifying from heavy metals, particularly in relation to autism (6). Given the widespread presence of heavy metals such as mercury it would make sense to include probiotics as part of an immunity programme, rather than the current reliance on immunisation. Paying attention to genetic differences in immunity, such as blood group and secretor status, can play a very important part in disease prevention when coupled with a naturopathic approach.
The opinion of Ian Pennell, consultant psychiatrist, responding to the claim that a lack of exposure to bacteria has created an increase in allergies, appears far more rational than using neurotoxic chemicals in preparations that artificially stimulate the immune system:
“The hypothesis… states that increasing microbiological sterility in our environment produced by constant routine dousing of our houses and ourselves with antibacterial chemicals in the name of hygiene, generates an abnormal set of immunological responses resulting in allergies.
“A better response to all this would be for children to be encouraged to play in the dirt, for us all to use soap in our homes rather than antibacterial cleanser, and to confine disinfectant to around the toilet rather than on all available surfaces. Eating live yoghurt might also help, as might encouraging frequent and regular physical contact with our pets, for both psychological and immunological reasons.
“I would much prefer to live out this sort of existence than be forever dependent on medical technology to bolster an immune system fatally weakened by a life long obsession with hygiene and a preoccupation with maintaining a sterile barrier with the natural world. (7)”
1. Hornig M, Chian D, Lipkin WI. Mol Psychiatry. 2004 Jun 8. Neurotoxic effects of postnatal thimerosal are mouse strain dependent.
2. Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism .
3. Clements CJ. The evidence for the safety of thiomersal in newborn and infant vaccines. Vaccine. 2004 May 7;22(15-16):1854-61.
4. BMJ 21 August 2004;329:411-412. Editorial: Misconceptions about the new combination vaccine.
5. Institute for Vaccine Safety. Institute for Vaccine Safety
6. Brudnak MA. Med Hypotheses. 2002 May;58(5):382-5. Probiotics as an adjuvant to detoxification protocols.
7. Pennell, I. Exposure to real life, not vaccination should be the answer. BMJ 24 May 2004.
Research: "Saliva - a pivotal player in the pathogenesis of oropharyngeal cancer. Reznick AZ, Hershkovich O, Nagler RM."
Br J Cancer. May 25th, 2004.
Cigarette smoke transforms healthy saliva into a deadly cocktail that can accelerate mouth cancer, according to research in the British Journal of Cancer.
Normally, saliva provides a protective buffer between toxins and the lining of the mouth because it contains important enzymes that fight and neutralise harmful substances.
But this research shows that the chemicals in tobacco smoke combine with saliva with devastating effect. They destroy the protective components of saliva, leaving a corrosive mix that damages cells in the mouth and can eventually turn them cancerous.
There are nearly 8,000 cases and 3,000 deaths from mouth cancer in the UK every year - the main cause being smoking. These figures refer to cancers of the head and neck, which include nose, mouth, lips, tongue, gums, tonsils, pharynx and larynx cancer.
The presumed connection between oropharyngeal cancer and cigarette smoke was based on the assumption that a constant direct attack of various carcinogens from cigarette smoke causes widespread accumulating cellular and DNA damage in the mucosal cells, in turn eventually resulting in malignancy. However, there is never a direct contact between cigarette smoke and the oral mucosa. Saliva covers the mucous membranes from the oral cavity to the larynx, and cigarette smoke must first interact with saliva before it reaches the mucosa.
The researchers in this study wanted to examine the role of saliva in the development of mouth cancer:
“A synergistic effect of Cigarette Smoke (CS) and saliva on oral cancer cells was demonstrated. This synergism is based on the reaction between redox active metals in saliva and low reactive free radicals in CS, which results in the production of highly active hydroxyl free radicals. Thus, when exposed to CS, salivary behavior is reversed and the saliva loses its antioxidant capacity and becomes a potent prooxidant milieu. The devastating role of CS-borne aldehydes was demonstrated as well.
“Based on these results and on our recent reports demonstrating that cigarette smoking destroys various salivary components, including protective ones such as peroxidase, the most important salivary antioxidant enzyme, a comprehensive view of the pivotal role of saliva in the pathogenesis of CS-induced oropharyngeal cancer is suggested.”
The research looked at the role of saliva in mouth cancer, but failed to take one important factor into account: salivary ABH secretor status.
Although salivary non-secretor status does not appear to be an associated risk marker for the development for oral cancer itself, being a non-secretor is a high risk factor for oral epithelial dysplasia.
Oral epithelial dysplasia is a disorder of differentiation of epithelial cells, and is likely to manifest as a solitary white patch. It is not possible to accurately predict the likely degree of dysplasia from the clinical features of such lesions, which may regress, remain stable, or progress to invasive carcinoma.
However there is also a strong link with non-secretor status and two other mouth conditions: chronic hyperplastic candidosis, where some degree of dysplasia may often be present, and also with potentially malignant oral lesions such as candidal leukoplakia, in which there is a risk of malignant change that may be greater than that of other leukoplakias.
It would perhaps be useful if future research into the role of cigarette smoking saliva and oropharyngeal cancer took secretor status into account.
The destruction of protective antioxidant substances in the saliva and the effect of other toxins in cigarette smoke are two more reasons to add to the many deterrents to smoking.
Tobacco addiction may be helped by the use of the herb Lobelia, which reduces cravings, but this should be taken under the supervision of a physician as it can be toxic in high doses. Eating oats regularly may also help, as they have sedative properties.
Vidas I, et. Al. Examining the secretor status in the saliva of patients with oral pre-cancerous lesions. J Oral Rehabil. 1999 Feb;26(2):177-82.
Lamey PJ, Douglas PS, Napier SS. Secretor status and oral cancer. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1994 Aug;32(4):214-7.
Lamey PJ, et. Al. Chronic hyperplastic candidosis and secretor status. J Oral Pathol Med. 1991 Feb;20(2):64-7.
Anand CL. Effect of Avena sativa on cigarette smoking. Nature. 1971 Oct 15;233(5320):496.
A diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating, and the consequences of treatment can be lasting. To prevent the cancer from metastasizing (spreading), standard surgical treatment involves removing the axillary (armpit) lymph nodes on the affected side. This can cause permanent lymphoedema (fluid swelling) of the arm due to lack of lymphatic drainage.
The first regional lymph nodes draining a primary tumour are known as the sentinel lymph nodes. Sentinel node biopsy, used since 1999 is a surgical technique for predicting histological findings (microscopic examination) in the remaining lymph nodes. This can predict the outcome of the spread of the cancer.
A new technique uses a radioactive dye to find the sentinel node without removing at least 20 lymph nodes under the arm to check if the disease has spread. Only one lymph node is removed, and lymphoedema is avoided in those whose cancer is limited to the breast only.
It is better to take steps to prevent breast cancer rather than have to treat it. A non-radioactive way of detecting blood flow and drainage in the breasts (which can be altered in tumour development) is by using thermal imaging. It is important to make sure that the clinic uses the correct procedure to get a valid image.
Secretors of blood groups A and AB, and also people of blood group MM are statistically more likely to get breast cancer, and also of the kind that progresses more rapidly. Rhesus positive blood group possibly influences levels of natural killer cells, which help to defend against breast cancer.
The M antigen (from the MN blood grouping system) is a precursor of the Thomsen-Friedenreich (T) antigen, which is expressed in some types of breast cancer. The T antigen allows your immune system to recognise when a cell has become malignant. People who already have similar antigens to the T antigen are those with the A antigen (blood groups A and A and also those with the M antigen.
As many breast cancers are oestrogen-dependant, one simple way for women and men to prevent breast cancer is to avoid using underarm deodorants that contain chemicals that mimic oestrogen in the body.
Recent research shows that the preservative parabens (alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoid acid), used in many cosmetics, foods and medicines, is known to have œstrogen-like properties in human breast cancer cells. Some cosmetics also contain pthalate plasticisers, which are also known to have œstrogenic activity.
Some chemicals in underarm cosmetics may also bind with DNA and promote growth of these genetically damaged cells. For example, aluminium-zirconium salts form a major constituent of many underarm cosmetics. Both zirconium and aluminium-zirconium complexes have been linked to the development of granulomas (granular lymphatic tumours).
Certain foods have specific cancer-preventative actions. The natural medicine ‘TFA Plus’ helps stimulate the body’s defence against the T antigen. For more information on foods for cancer prevention see ‘Cancer – Fight it with the Blood Type Diet’
Dadamo, P. The Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia.
Darbre P. Underarm cosmetics and breast cancer. Journal of Applied Toxicology, Vol. 23, 2 , 89 – 95.
Goyal A et. al. Sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with multifocal breast cancer. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2004 Jun;30(5):475-9.