Meta-analyses Used To Discredit Supplements – Health Supreme

 Meta-analyses Used To Discredit Supplements

Several recent ‘studies’ on nutrients seem to contradict either what we know from previous research, or what our intelligence tells us should be true. You only have to scan the headlines and pay attention to the "newly found" dangers of this or that natural substance. From St. John’s Wort to Kava Kava, from vitamin C to vitamin E, we hear that they are "not effective" or worse – that they may be dangerous.

Nonsense, says Dr Robert Verkerk of the Alliance for Natural Health, those studies are manipulated. Apparently there is a new kind of study that is highly regarded these days, the so-called "meta-analysis". That is a choose-and-pick approach where older studies are reviewed and analyzed to make them say whatever the funders now desire. The criteria of inclusion/exclusion of previous studies in the analysis, and the decision of how to give different weights to different results are so rubbery that almost any conclusion becomes possible. We see that in many of the recent studies that attempt to trash nutrients, to give vitamins and other natural substances a bad name.

The fact that a recent meta-analysis throwing doubt on omega-3 fish oils coincides with the launch of a pharmaceutical version of the same type of fats made by chemical giant Solvay reminds me of the tryptophan disaster of more than a decade ago. The amino acid L-tryptophan was being used as a mood enhancer and remedy for migraine headaches and had the public excited. At the same time as a tryptophan-based pharmaceutical headache medicine was launched, a mysterious contamination of one batch of the amino-acid made by Japanese producer Showa Denko caused all tryptophan products sold as supplements to be taken off the market, while the one sold as a medicine remained on sale. Much the same happened with melatonin, a strong anti-oxidant and regulator of sleep patterns. Once the excitement got too much, the health authorities came down heavy handed and removed melatonin from the market in several European countries.

Examples of such strange coincidences abound, but let’s concentrate on the present. Here is Rob Verkerk’s analysis of some of the recent meta-analyses…

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META-ANALYSIS: a new tool to discredit natural health supplements?

By Dr Robert Verkerk, Executive & Scientific Director, Alliance for Natural Health

(you can download a PDF version of the article here)

On 24 March 2006, The British Medical Journal published a meta-analysis (a study of other studies) on omega-3 fatty acids [1] that prompted headlines around the world to the effect that “fish oils don’t work”. This is not the first time a meta-analysis has triggered headlines that discredit natural health supplements.

The vitamin E meta-analysis of 2004

In November 2004, Dr Edgar Miller and colleagues published electronically in the Annals of Internal Medicine a meta-analysis [2] that provided headlines as bizarre as “High dose vitamin E death warning” (this headline was run by none other than the BBC on 11 November 2004). The meta-analysis appeared to be pitched to tarnish the reputation of vitamin E, a nutrient in which many are known to be deficient. Among many of its problems, the study failed to show how healthy people would respond to supplemental intakes of vitamin E and it only included studies on synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol). It therefore omitted any consideration of the effects of the seven other related compounds that make-up full spectrum, natural vitamin E, as found in vegetable oils. Interestingly, the body’s absorption of the most important dietary form (gamma-tocopherol) is hindered by high doses of synthetic vitamin E, and this could have explained the negative results found by Miller et al.

The overall conclusion that high-dose vitamin E causes increased mortality could also have been a statistical artefact, with no biological relevance. Since the study assessed all-cause mortality, and not just cardiovascular mortality, other factors could easily have contributed to the greater death rate in the higher dose vitamin E group found when trials were pooled. It should be noted that the increased death rate was marginal; just 63 additional deaths per 10,000 persons, compared with the control group. Given that the confidence interval ranged from 6 to 119, this increased death rate cannot be said to be statistically significant.

Prior to this meta-analysis on vitamin E, market research data from Frost & Sullivan showed that vitamin E was the second most consumed single vitamin supplement, after vitamin C, in Europe. High-dose Vitamin E could have easily been perceived by Big Pharma as a threat to its huge cardiovascular drug market, comprised of statins, beta-blockers and ACE-inhibitors. In fact, Big Pharma had demonstrated such a strong interest in vitamins that it established an illegal cartel to control the markets and prices of a range of key vitamins, including vitamin E. Fortunately for the consumer, the conspiracy was eventually exposed and pharma companies like BASF and Hoffman-La Roche, as well as some of their top executives, got busted. Fines imposed by the US Justice Department in the US (May 1999) and, separately, by the European Commission (November 2001), which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in the US and similar amounts in Europe, are still among the largest ever imposed following an anti-trust investigation. Undeterred by this prosecution, Big Pharma continued its campaign against supplements, with the meta-analysis on vitamin E appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine just three years later.

The antioxidant vitamin meta-analysis of 2003

A year earlier, in June 2003, another meta-analysis appeared. This one was published in the prestigious medical journal, the Lancet, by Dr Marc Penn and colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic [3]. These authors asserted that beta-carotene, vitamin A and other antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E, were harmful. These authors re-iterated yet again negative results from a very small clutch of studies on synthetic vitamins like synthetic beta-carotene and vitamin E, which were once more administered to diseased or high risk subjects, and often for inadequate periods of time.

Following the publication of the meta-analysis, the lead author was quoted in the media saying that people should stop taking supplements containing vitamins A, beta-carotene and E. These conclusions, some of which were carried over into the vitamin E meta-analysis the following year, are profound misinterpretations of the existing evidence base, and most certainly cannot be applied to the role of these vitamins in reducing risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease in healthy people. Nor can these conclusions be applied to supplements containing natural forms of these vitamins.

Back to the omega-3 meta-analysis of 2006

Last month’s attack on fish oils prompted by the meta-analysis by Dr Lee Hooper and his colleagues, as published in the BMJ, must surely be seen in the same light as the two meta-analyses discussed above. Put bluntly, the meta-analysis appears to be, once more, a vehicle to generate negative headlines. In fairness, even the authors have now conceded that they were “misquoted in much of the press.” [4]

The scientific evidence for long chain omega-3 benefits on lowering triglycerides and other risk factors in heart disease, as well as clear, beneficial immune system modulation and behavioural effects, have been regarded by scientists, doctors and health authorities around the world as conclusive. This evidence has formed the basis of recommendations to consume oily fish or fish oil supplements by many governments. Where governments have stipulated a limit on the maximum amount to be consumed, such as no more than three portions of oily fish weekly, this has served mainly as a means to limit intake of heavy metals like mercury, or other contaminants such as dioxins or PCBs common in most wild fish [5]. Peculiarly, governments have appeared shy of recommending high-quality fish oil supplements which are often guaranteed as being free of any significant levels of these contaminants. This is particularly relevant given that specific batches of several low cost, mass market fish oil product lines have recently had to be withdrawn from the UK market owing to dioxin contamination (e.g. several Seven Seas [owned by pharma giant Merck] fish oil product batches were withdrawn on 14th March 2006, and on 11th March 2006 high street pharmacy chain Boots withdrew two batches of its own brand fish oil product).

In closely scrutinising Hooper et al’s paper, one thing becomes apparent: the findings are not nearly as damning as those suggested by the negative headlines on omega-3 fats that rebounded around the world for over a week. In fact, to the contrary; when it comes to the studies with fish oils only, the news appears just as rosy as we had all thought.

Ten out of 12 randomised control trials considered in the meta-analysis that assessed these oils in relation to total mortality point to positive findings. The same can be said for all three cohort studies considered by the meta-analysis authors. That’s thirteen out of fifteen studies showing favourable results for higher intakes of omega-3 fats. The remaining two studies have been presented as showing very slightly negative findings, but in both cases the studies deal with existing disease states, either angina or coronary artery bypass grafts. The negative effects, in both cases, are so small that they could be regarded as having little or no biological relevance (in one study there was half a percent greater mortality in the treatment compared with control, while in the other there was a little over a 2% difference). The meta-analysis authors themselves considered both studies as being of medium to high risk of bias, which might in itself explain or at least contribute to such variations.

So, while the world was assaulted with headlines such as “The benefits of fish and linseed oils as elixir of life are another health myth” (this example being courtesy of The Times newspaper), we could have just as easily, and much more correctly, read headlines along the lines of: “New meta-analysis reinforces the health benefits of fish oils.” But perhaps fewer newspapers would have sold on 24 and 25 March 2006.

Smearing the data with margarine

Even when Hooper and co-workers included studies with plant-derived, short chain omega-3 fats, such as those found in certain vegetable oils (e.g. flax) including margarines, the overall trend still pointed to reduced mortality for those consuming higher intake levels of all forms of omega-3.

The study that was presented as having the most pronounced apparent negative effect was one published in 2002 by Groningen University’s Dr Wanda Bemelmans and colleagues [6]. The study, known as the MARGARIN trial, investigated the effect on heart disease risk of a Unilever margarine enriched with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important short-chain omega-3 found to be rich in Mediterranean diets, well known for their health promoting properties. The study also aimed to assess the effect of group education on the benefits associated with consuming a typical Mediterranean diet. Importantly, the subjects in the study all had multiple cardiovascular risk factors; nearly half were smokers and took anti-hypertensive drugs, while over 40% had family histories of cardiovascular risk.

Bemelmans and colleagues’ own findings, in contrast to their interpretation of these findings in the Hooper et al meta-analysis, are overwhelmingly positive. They demonstrate clearly the beneficial effects of ALA-enriched margarine on reducing heart disease risk. The study also shows that group education led to healthier diets, with increased consumption of fish, and consequently lower heart disease risk factors. These findings are actually fully in line with another major study, the Lyons Diet Heart Study, published in 1994 in the Lancet, which actually provided the inspiration for Bemelmans and colleagues’ MARGARIN trial.

So, how was this study distorted to give the impression that omega-3 fats might be bad for you? This is down to the very small number of deaths recorded, which could just as easily be a function of chance rather than any treatment effect. The study included only four deaths out of 266 subjects in total. The omega-3 meta-analysis authors managed to blacken this study because 3 out of 4 of these deaths (again from all-causes, not just cardiovascular disease) occurred in the high ALA, treatment group, while only one was in the low ALA, control group. This small number of deaths could easily have been a function of random, ‘statistical clustering’, particularly given that risk factors appeared lower in the high ALA treatment group.

Dr Bemelmans has actually gone on public record since the release of Hooper et al’’s meta-analysis questioning the way in which her study has been used, and how her and her co-authors’ positive findings have been used to demonstrate negative findings in the meta-analysis.

Just as importantly, since the omega-3 sources are vegetable oils in margarine, it is not surprising that the benefits are perhaps less pronounced given the inefficient and limited conversion by the human body of plant-derived omega-3s to key long chain fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are abundant in fish oils. Additionally, harmful trans fats in margarine could have been an additional confounding factor.

Cutting to the chase

Looking at all of the data in the omega-3 meta-analysis, the only area where it is possible to interpret a tendency towards very slightly negative effects, is in the case of randomised control trials (but not cohort studies) looking at the effects of omega-3 fats on cancer and stroke. However, these results could just as easily be the result of bias or confounding factors, inadequate periods of supplementation, or even the effects of contaminants in fish or fish oil capsules.

For the BMJ’’s own view on the subject, it is worth referring to the Editorial published on 24 March which focuses on Hooper et al’’s meta-analysis. Contrary to the thrust of the meta-analysis itself, and the related media, the Editorial takes a rather positive line on omega-3s, and demonstrates concern over dwindling supplies of marine-derived omega-3s. Citing directly from the Editorial:

“For the general public some omega 3 fat is good for health….. Adequate intake of omega 3 fats is particularly important for women of childbearing age…… We are faced with a paradox. Health recommendations advise increased consumption of oily fish and fish oils, within limits, on the grounds that intake is generally low. However, industrial fishing has depleted the world’s fish stocks by some 90% since 1950, and rising fish prices reduce affordability particularly for people with low incomes. Global production trends suggest that, although fish farming is expanding rapidly, we probably do not have a sustainable supply of long chain omega 3 fats.”

Additionally, there are now many Rapid Responses published in the BMJ which reinforce problems with the authors’ conclusions. These can be found at:
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/332/7544/752.

Let you be the judge. I don’t believe many people who read the full Hooper et al meta-analysis, as well as the BMJ editorial and Rapid Responses, would stop taking fish oil supplements. The problem is that only a tiny proportion of the population will do this. Many more will succumb to the negative headlines triggered by the meta-analysis and, contrary to the vast weight of evidence, they now run the risk of going against government advice to increase consumption of oily fish or fish oil supplements at recommended doses.

Those very few who interrogate the evidence considered by Hooper and colleagues might actually decide to alter their sources of omega-3 fats, shifting in the direction of high quality fish oil supplements and away from vegetarian sources of omega-3 and even oily fish, which runs the risk of contamination. This way, they can be guaranteed specific amounts of long-chain EPA and DHA, as well as being confident they are consuming products that are certified as free from contaminants.

So, despite the headlines, there is no new evidence clouding the efficacy of fish oils or long chain essential fatty acids. In fact, if the meta-analysis had included other health benefits such as immune system function, cognitive and behavioural function and joint health, the case for marine-derived omega-3s would have looked even stronger. So strong, in fact, one wonders if the media couldn’t be sued by fish oil supplement manufacturers for damages. But things are rarely this simple.

We are left wondering about those negative headlines. Could there have been a motive for the negative spin?

Pharma fish oils

Just as we’ve seen Big Pharma control vitamin and mineral markets globally, both legally and illegally, is it not possible that this most recent skewed meta-analysis is part of a plan to discredit fish oils consumed increasingly by the masses?

When you peruse the competing interests declared in the BMJ paper, the only possible link given is that speaker fees have been paid to one of the authors by a company, Solvay, that markets a product called Omacor. Solvay is not a small marketing outfit. It is part of an international chemical and pharmaceutical group, headquartered in Brussels, which employs some 33,000 people across 50 countries. Omacor also happens to be the first prescription-only fish oil. As a licensed medicine, unlike the much more common fish oil food or dietary supplements, it can brandish extensive health and medicinal claims. Omacor, manufactured by Pronova Biocare in Norway (a private, limited company owned by Ferd Private Equity Fund), is prescribed primarily for reducing triglycerides (a major heart disease risk factor) and is positioned firmly as a stable mate with cholesterol-reducing statin drugs. In other words, the evidence for taking high quality fish oils is so convincing, drugs companies perhaps now want a slice of the action.

And the timing for the release of the meta-analysis does appear most fortuitous. In November 2004, Omacor was approved as a drug by the US Food & Drug Administration. In September 2005, Solvay Pharmaceuticals and Pronova Biocare signed a licensing agreement for exclusive distribution rights for distribution into India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Furthermore, on 1 December 2005, EPAX Sales and Production de-merged from Pronova Biocare to enable Pronova to focus exclusively on the production of prescription-only Omacor. EPAX, also based in Norway, will continue to produce concentrated omega-3 oils for the ‘poor-cousin’, dietary supplement industry.

Is the way actually being paved to encourage patients to elect for the prescription-only fish oil version, resplendent with all the health claims allowed under a drugs regime and banned in the food or dietary supplement sector? Even if these processes are only coincidental, and we currently have no direct evidence to suggest otherwise, the effect is the same.

The crying shame from a public health and disease prevention perspective, is that some of the most robust evidence for taking fish oils relates to their early, protective effects against heart disease. And that’s why the free availability of high quality fish oil supplements is so important; people only take drugs when they become sick.

So now, those people – and there may be many – who have been unfairly frightened away from fish oil supplements might believe that they need to wait until they’re sick in later life before their trusted doctors can prescribe the fish oil supplements they should have been consuming all along.

It is indeed a topsy-turvy world of lies, damn lies — and statistics.

REFERENCES

1. Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, Worthington HV, Durrington PN, Higgins JP, Capps NE, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim SB, Davey Smith G. Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. British Medical Journal, 2006; 332 (7544): 752-60.

2. Miller ER 3rd, Pastor-Barriuso R, Dalal D, Riemersma RA, Appel LJ, Guallar E. Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2005; 142(1): 37-46.

3. Vivekananthan DP, Penn MS, Sapp SK, Hsu A, Topol EJ. Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomised trials. Lancet, 2003; 361(9374): 2017-23.

4. Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, Worthington HV, Durrington PN, Higgins JP, Capps NE, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim SB, Davey Smith G. Rapid Response in British Medical Journal: Authors reply – omega 3s and health. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/332/7544/752#131349 [last accessed 19 April 2006].

5. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition / Committee on Toxicity (UK). Advice on fish consumption: benefits and risks. Food Standards Agency / Department of Health. 2004. 204 pp.

6. Bemelmans WJ, Broer J, Feskens EJ, Smit AJ, Muskiet FA, Lefrandt JD, Bom VJ, May JF, Meyboom-de Jong B. Effect of an increased intake of alpha-linolenic acid and group nutritional education on cardiovascular risk factors: the Mediterranean Alpha-linolenic Enriched Groningen Dietary Intervention (MARGARIN) study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002; 75(2): 221-7.

For further information, please contact:

Alliance for Natural Health
The Atrium, Dorking,
Surrey RH4 1XA, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1252 371 275
Email: info@anhcampaign.org

 


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Monday April 24 2006

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Meta-analyses Used To Discredit Supplements – Health Supreme

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The Largest Biological Experiment Ever

The Largest Biological Experiment Ever

by Arthur Firstenberg


In 2002, Gro Harlem Brundtland, then head of the World Health Organization, told a Norwegian journalist that cell phones were banned from her office in Geneva because she personally becomes ill if a cell phone is brought within about four meters (13 feet) of her. Mrs. Brundtland is a medical doctor and former Prime Minister of Norway. This sensational news, published March 9, 2002 in Dagbladet, was ignored by every other newspaper in the world. The following week Michael Repacholi, her subordinate in charge of the International EMF (electromagnetic field) Project, responded with a public statement belittling his boss’s concerns. Five months later, for reasons that many suspect were related to these circumstances, Mrs. Brundtland announced she would step down from her leadership post at the WHO after just one term.

Nothing could better illustrate our collective schizophrenia when it comes to thinking about electromagnetic radiation. We respond to those who are worried about its dangers — hence the International EMF Project — but we ignore and marginalize those, like Mrs. Brundtland, who have already succumbed to its effects.

As a consultant on the health effects of wireless technology, I receive calls that can be broadly divided into two main groups: those from people who are merely worried, whom I will call A, and those from people who are already sick, whom I will call B. I sometimes wish I could arrange a large conference call and have the two groups talk to each other — there needs to be more mutual understanding so that we are all trying to solve the same problems. Caller A, worried, commonly asks what kind of shield to buy for his cell phone or what kind of headset to wear with it. Sometimes he wants to know what is a safe distance to live from a cell tower. Caller B, sick, wants to know what kind of shielding to put on her house, what kind of medical treatment to get, or, increasingly often, what part of the country she could move to to escape the radiation to save her life.

The following is designed as a sort of a primer: first, to help everybody get more or less on the same page, and second, to clear up some of the confusions so that we can make rational decisions toward a healthier world.


Fundamentals

The most basic fact about cell phones and cell towers is that they emit microwave radiation; so do Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) antennas, wireless computers, cordless (portable) phones and their base units, and all other wireless devices. If it’s a communication device and it’s not attached to the wall by a wire, it’s emitting radiation. Most Wi-Fi systems and some cordless phones operate at the exact same frequency as a microwave oven, while other devices use a different frequency. Wi-Fi is always on and always radiating. The base units of most cordless phones are always radiating, even when no one is using the phone. A cell phone that is on but not in use is also radiating. And, needless to say, cell towers are always radiating.

Why is this a problem, you might ask? Scientists usually divide the electromagnetic spectrum into “ionizing” and “non-ionizing.” Ionizing radiation, which includes x-rays and atomic radiation, causes cancer. Non-ionizing radiation, which includes microwave radiation, is supposed to be safe. This distinction always reminded me of the propaganda in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” “Non-ionizing good, ionizing bad” is as little to be trusted.

An astronomer once quipped that if Neil Armstrong had taken a cell phone to the Moon in 1969, it would have appeared to be the third most powerful source of microwave radiation in the universe, next only to the Sun and the Milky Way. He was right. Life evolved with negligible levels of microwave radiation. An increasing number of scientists speculate that our own cells, in fact, use the microwave spectrum to communicate with one another, like children whispering in the dark, and that cell phones, like jackhammers, interfere with their signaling. In any case, it is a fact that we are all being bombarded, day in and day out, whether we use a cell phone or not, by an amount of microwave radiation that is some ten million times as strong as the average natural background. And it is also a fact that most of this radiation is due to technology that has been developed since the 1970s.

As far as cell phones themselves are concerned, if you put one up to your head you are damaging your brain in a number of different ways. First, think of a microwave oven. A cell phone, like a microwave oven and unlike a hot shower, heats you from the inside out, not from the outside in. And there are no sensory nerve endings in the brain to warn you of a rise in temperature because we did not evolve with microwave radiation, and this never happens in nature. Worse, the structure of the head and brain is so complex and non-uniform that “hot spots” are produced, where heating can be tens or hundreds of times what it is nearby. Hot spots can occur both close to the surface of the skull and deep within the brain, and also on a molecular level.

Cell phones are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and you can find, in the packaging of most new phones, a number called the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, which is supposed to indicate the rate at which energy is absorbed by the brain from that particular model. One problem, however, is the arbitrary assumption, upon which the FCC’s regulations are based, that the brain can safely dissipate added heat at a rate of up to 1 degree C per hour. Compounding this is the scandalous procedure used to demonstrate compliance with these limits and give each cell phone its SAR rating. The standard way to measure SAR is on a “phantom” consisting, incredibly, of a homogenous fluid encased in Plexiglas in the shape of a head. Presto, no hot spots! But in reality, people who use cell phones for hours per day are chronically heating places in their brain. The FCC’s safety standard, by the way, was developed by electrical engineers, not doctors.


The Blood-Brain Barrier

The second effect that I want to focus on, which has been proven in the laboratory, should by itself have been enough to shut down this industry and should be enough to scare away anyone from ever using a cell phone again. I call it the “smoking gun” of cell phone experiments. Like most biological effects of microwave radiation, this has nothing to do with heating.

The brain is protected by tight junctions between adjacent cells of capillary walls, the so-called blood-brain barrier, which, like a border patrol, lets nutrients pass through from the blood to the brain, but keeps toxic substances out. Since 1988, researchers in the laboratory of a Swedish neurosurgeon, Leif Salford, have been running variations on this simple experiment: they expose young laboratory rats to either a cell phone or other source of microwave radiation, and later they sacrifice the animals and look for albumin in their brain tissue. Albumin is a protein that is a normal component of blood but that does not normally cross the blood-brain barrier. The presence of albumin in brain tissue is always a sign that blood vessels have been damaged and that the brain has lost some of its protection.

Here is what these researchers have found, consistently for 18 years: Microwave radiation, at doses equal to a cell phone’s emissions, causes albumin to be found in brain tissue. A one-time exposure to an ordinary cell phone for just two minutes causes albumin to leak into the brain. In one set of experiments, reducing the exposure level by a factor of 1,000 actually increased the damage to the blood-brain barrier, showing that this is not a dose-response effect and that reducing the power will not make wireless technology safer. And finally, in research published in June 2003, a single two-hour exposure to a cell phone, just once during its lifetime, permanently damaged the blood-brain barrier and, on autopsy 50 days later, was found to have damaged or destroyed up to 2 percent of an animal’s brain cells, including cells in areas of the brain concerned with learning, memory and movement.1 Reducing the exposure level by a factor of 10 or 100, thereby duplicating the effect of wearing a headset, moving a cell phone further from your body, or standing next to somebody else’s phone, did not appreciably change the results! Even at the lowest exposure, half the animals had a moderate to high number of damaged neurons.

The implications for us? Two minutes on a cell phone disrupts the blood-brain barrier, two hours on a cell phone causes permanent brain damage, and secondhand radiation may be almost as bad. The blood-brain barrier is the same in a rat and a human being.

These results caused enough of a commotion in Europe that in November 2003 a conference was held, sponsored by the European Union, titled “The Blood-Brain Barrier — Can It Be Influenced by RF [radio frequency]-Field Interactions?” as if to reassure the public: “See, we are doing something about this.” But, predictably, nothing was done about it, as nothing has been done about it for 30 years.

America’s Allan Frey, during the 1970s, was the first of many to demonstrate that low-level microwave radiation damages the blood-brain barrier.2 Similar mechanisms protect the eye (the blood-vitreous barrier) and the fetus (the placental barrier), and the work of Frey and others indicates that microwave radiation damages those barriers also.3 The implication:
No pregnant woman should ever be using a cell phone.

Dr. Salford is quite outspoken about his work. He has called the use of handheld
cell phones “the largest human biological experiment ever.” And he has publicly warned that a whole generation of cell-phone-using teenagers may suffer from mental deficits or Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reach middle age.


Radio-Wave Sickness

Unfortunately, cell phone users are not the only ones being injured, nor should we be worried only about the brain. The following brief summary is distilled from a vast scientific literature on the effects of radio waves (a larger spectrum which includes microwaves), together with the experiences of scientists and doctors all over the world with whom I am in contact.

Organs that have been shown to be especially susceptible to radio waves include the lungs, nervous system, heart, eyes, testes and thyroid gland. Diseases that have increased remarkably in the last couple of decades, and that there is good reason to connect with the massive increase in radiation in our environment, include asthma, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, autism, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cataracts, hypothyroidism, diabetes, malignant melanoma, testicular cancer, and heart attacks and strokes in young people. Radiation from microwave towers has also been associated with forest die-off, reproductive failure and population decline in many species of birds, and ill health and birth deformities in farm animals. The literature showing biological effects of microwave radiation is truly enormous, running to tens of thousands of documents, and I am amazed that industry spokespersons are getting away with saying that wireless technology has been proved safe or — just as ridiculous — that there is no evidence of harm.

I have omitted one disease from the above list: the illness that Caller B has, and that I have. A short history is in order here. In the 1950s and 1960s workers who built, tested and repaired radar equipment came down with this disease in large numbers. So did operators of industrial microwave heaters and sealers. The Soviets named it, appropriately, radio wave sickness, and studied it extensively. In the West its existence was denied totally, but workers came down with it anyway. Witness congressional hearings held in 1981, chaired by then Representative Al Gore, on the health effects of radio-frequency heaters and sealers, another episode in “See, we are doing something about this,” while nothing is done.

Today, with the mass proliferation of radio towers and personal transmitters, the disease has spread like a plague into the general population. Estimates of its prevalence range up to one-third of the population, but it is rarely recognized for what it is until it has so disabled a person that he or she can no longer participate in society. You may recognize some of its common symptoms: insomnia, dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue, memory loss, inability to concentrate, depression, chest discomfort, ringing in the ears. Patients may also develop medical problems such as chronic respiratory infections, heart arrhythmias, sudden fluctuations in blood pressure, uncontrolled blood sugar, dehydration, and even seizures and internal bleeding.

What makes this disease so difficult to accept, and even more difficult to cope with, is that no treatment is likely to succeed unless one can also avoid exposure to its cause — and its cause is now everywhere. A 1998 survey by the California Department of Health Services indicated that at that time 120,000 Californians — and by implication 1 million Americans — were unable to work due to electromagnetic pollution.4 The ranks of these so-called electrically sensitive are swelling in almost every country in the world, marginalized, stigmatized and ignored. With the level of radiation everywhere today, they almost never recover and sometimes take their own lives.

“They are acting as a warning for all of us,” says Dr. Olle Johansson of people with this illness. “It could be a major mistake to subject the entire world’s population to whole-body irradiation, 24 hours a day.” A neuroscientist at the famous Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Dr. Johansson heads a research team that is documenting a significant and permanent worsening of the public health that began precisely when the second-generation, 1800 MHz cell phones were introduced into Sweden in late l997.5,6 After a decade-long decline, the number of Swedish workers on sick leave began to rise in late 1997 and more than doubled during the next five years. During the same period of time, sales of antidepressant drugs also doubled. The number of traffic accidents, after declining for years, began to climb again in 1997. The number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, after declining for several years, rose sharply in 1999 and had nearly doubled by 2001. This two-year delay is understandable when one considers that Alzheimer’s disease requires some time to develop.


Uncontrolled Proliferation

If cell phones and cell towers are really deadly, have the radio and TV towers that we have been living with for a century been safe? In 2002 Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson coauthored a paper titled “Cancer Trends During the 20th Century,” which examined one aspect of that question.7 They found, in the United States, Sweden and dozens of other countries, that mortality rates for skin melanoma and for bladder, prostate, colon, breast and lung cancers closely paralleled the degree of public exposure to radio waves during the past hundred years. When radio broadcasting increased in a given location, so did those forms of cancer; when it decreased, so did those forms of cancer. And, a sensational finding: country by country — and county by county in Sweden — they found, statistically, that exposure to radio waves appears to be as big a factor in causing lung cancer as cigarette smoking!

Which brings me to address a widespread misconception. The biggest difference between the cell towers of today and the radio towers of the past is not their safety, but their numbers. The number of ordinary radio stations in the United States today is still less than 14,000. But cell towers and Wi-Fi towers number in the hundreds of thousands, and cell phones, wireless computers, cordless telephones and two-way radios number in the hundreds of millions. Radar facilities and emergency communication networks are also proliferating out of control. Since 1978, when the Environmental Protection Agency last surveyed the radio frequency environment in the United States, the average urban dweller’s exposure to radio waves has increased 1,000-fold, most of this increase occurring in just the last nine years.8 In the same period of time, radio pollution has spread from the cities to rest like a ubiquitous fog over the entire planet.

The vast human consequences of all this are being ignored. Since the late 1990s a whole new class of environmental refugees has been created right here in the United States. We have more and more people, sick, dying, seeking relief from our suffering, leaving our homes and our livelihoods, living in cars, trailers and tents in remote places. Unlike victims of hurricanes and earthquakes, we are not the subject of any relief efforts. No one is donating money to help us, to buy us a protected refuge; no one is volunteering to forego their cell phones, their wireless computers and their cordless phones so that we can once more be their neighbors and live among them.

The worried and the sick have not yet opened their hearts to each other, but they are asking questions. To answer caller A: No shield or headset will protect you from your cell or portable phone. There is no safe distance from a cell tower. If your cell phone or your wireless computer works where you live, you are being irradiated 24 hours a day.

To caller B: To effectively shield a house is difficult and rarely successful. There are only a few doctors in the United States attempting to treat radio wave sickness, and their success rate is poor — because there are few places left on Earth where one can go to escape this radiation and recover.

Yes, radiation comes down from satellites, too; they are part of the problem, not the solution. There is simply no way to make wireless technology safe.

Our society has become both socially and economically dependent, in just one short decade, upon a technology that is doing tremendous damage to the fabric of our world. The more entrenched we let ourselves become in it, the more difficult it will become to change our course. The time to extricate ourselves, both individually and collectively — difficult though it is already is — is now.



NOTES

1. Leif G. Salford et al., “Nerve Cell Damage in Mammalian Brain After Exposure to Microwaves from GSM Mobile Phones,” Environmental Health Perspectives 111, no. 7 (2003): 881–883.

2. Allan H. Frey, Sondra R. Feld and Barbara Frey, “Neural Function and Behavior,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 247 (1975): 433–439.

3. Allan H. Frey, “Evolution and Results
of Biological Research with Low-Intensity Nonionizing Radiation,” in
Modern Bioelectricity, ed. Andrew A. Marino (New York: Dekker, 1988), 785–837, at 809–810.

4. California EMF Program, The Risk Evaluation: An Evaluation of the Possible Risks From Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) From Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations and Appliances (2002), app. 3.

5. Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “1997 — A Curious Year in Sweden,” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 13, no. 6 (2004): 535–538.

6. Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “Does GSM 1800 MHz Affect the Public Health in Sweden?” in Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop “Biological Effects of EMFs,” Kos, Greece, October 4-8, 2004, 361–364.

7. Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “Cancer Trends During the 20th Century,”
Journal of Australian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine 21, no. 1 (2002): 3–8.

8. David E. Janes Jr., “Radiofrequency Environments in the United States,” in 15th IEEE Conference on Communication, Boston, MA, June 10–14, 1979, vol. 2, 31.4.1–31.4.5.

Published in: on April 23, 2006 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Terrible Truth About ID Cards

The Terrible Truth About ID Cards

Friday, April 14th, 2006

The UK ID card is not what you think it is. It is not a simple identity document like your passport or driving licese. It is in fact, a database backed control grid and the fulfilment of Orwells nightmare.

You may have heard that legislation creating compulsory ID Cards passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons. You may feel that ID cards are not something to worry about, since we already have Photo ID for our Passport and Driving License and an ID Card will be no different to that. What you have not been told is the full scope of this proposed ID Card, and what it will mean to you personally.

The proposed ID Card will be different from any card you now hold. It will be connected to a database called the NIR, (National Identity Register)., where all of your personal details will be stored. This will include the unique number that will be issued to you, your fingerprints, a scan of the back of your eye, and your photograph. Your name, address and date of birth will also obviously be stored there.

There will be spaces on this database for your religion, residence status, and many other private and personal facts about you. There is unlimited space for every other details of your life on the NIR database, which can be expanded by the Government with or without further Acts of Parliament.

By itself, you might think that this register is harmless, but you would be wrong to come to this conclusion. This new card will be used to check your identity against your entry in the register in real time, whenever you present it to ‘prove who you are’.

Every place that sells alcohol or cigarettes, every post office, every pharmacy, and every Bank will have an NIR Card Terminal, (very much like the Chip and Pin Readers that are everywhere now) into which your card can be ’swiped’ to check your identity. Each time this happens, a record is made at the NIR of the time and place that the Card was presented. This means for example, that there will be a government record of every time you withdraw more than £99 at your branch of Nat West, who now demand ID for these transactions. Every time you have to prove that you are over 18, your card will be swiped, and a record made at the NIR. Restaurants and off licenses will demand that your card is swiped so that each receipt shows that they sold alcohol to someone over 18, and that this was proved by the access to the NIR, indemnifying them from prosecution.

Private businesses are going to be given access to the NIR Database. If you want to apply for a job, you will have to present your card for a swipe. If you want to apply for a London Underground Oyster Card,or a supermarket loyalty card, or a driving license you will have to present your ID Card for a swipe. The same goes for getting a telephone line or a mobile phone or an internet account.

Oyster, DVLA, BT and Nectar (for example) all run very detailed databases of their own. They will be allowed access to the NIR,just as every other business will be. This means that each of these entities will be able to store your unique number in their database, and place all your travel, phone records, driving activities and detailed shopping habits under your unique NIR number. These databases, which can easily fit on a storage device the size of your hand, will be sold to third parties either legally or illegally. It will then be possible for a non governmental entity to create a detailed dossier of all your activities. Certainly, the government will have clandestine access to all of them, meaning that they will have a complete record of all your movements, from how much and when you withdraw from your bank account to what medications you are taking, down to the level of what sort of bread you eat – all accessible via a single unique number in a central database.

This is quite a significant leap from a simple ID Card that shows your name and face.

Most people do not know that this is the true character and scope of the proposed ID Card. Whenever the details of how it will work are explained to them, they quickly change from being ambivalent towards it.

The Government is going to COMPEL you to enter your details into the NIR and to carry this card. If you and your children want to obtain or renew your passports, you will be forced to have your fingerprints taken and your eyes scanned for the NIR, and an ID Card will be issued to you whether you want one or not. If you refuse to be fingerprinted and eye scanned, you will not be able to get a passport. Your ID Card will, just like your passport, not be your property. The Home Secretary will have the right to revoke or suspend your ID at any time, meaning that you will not be able to withdraw money from your Bank Account, for example, or do anything that requires you to present your government issued ID Card.

The arguments that have been put forwarded in favour of ID Cards can be easily disproved. ID Cards WILL NOT stop terrorists; every Spaniard has a compulsory ID Card as did the Madrid Bombers. ID Cards will not ‘eliminate benefit fraud’, which in comparison, is small compared to the astronomical cost of this proposal, which will be measured in billions according to the LSE (London School of Economics). This scheme exists solely to exert total surveillance and control over the ordinary free British Citizen,and it will line the pockets of the companies that will create the computer systems at the expense of your freedom, privacy and money.

If you did not know the full scope of the proposed ID Card Scheme before and you are as unsettled as I am at what it really means to you, to this country and its way of life, I urge you to email or photocopy this and give it to your friends and colleagues and everyone else you think should know and who cares. The Bill has proceeded to this stage due to the lack of accurate and complete information on this proposal being made public. Together & Hand to hand, we can inform the entire nation if everyone who receives this passes it on.

Frances Stonor Saunders

 

http://www.rinf.com/columnists/news/the-terrible-truth-about-id-cards

 

Published in: on April 18, 2006 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Labour monster: time to slay it – RINF Alternative News

 The New Labour monster: time to slay it

Monday, April 10th, 2006

Jultra

Some days back, Conservative peers decided to capitulate and claim the radical and dehumanizing ID slave grid as an election issue by voting for a compromise after 5 times defeating the government on the issue.

They claimed it would delay the symbolic forcing of taking an ID card with a new passport, but you would still have to be inserted into the slave database on application, so this amounted to a gain of absolutely nothing yet Conservative peers apparently thought that they could win the next election on this point.

That’s the theory and how the Sun and Mirror treated it on the day and then Labour let the cat of out the bag to say yes full compuslion is the plan.

It’s an interesting idea and some may well say will create pressure to axe the scheme altogether, the problem of course it is assumes 1 or more of the following:

1) The Conservatives will win the next election and will actually axe the scheme

2) Gordon Brown will axe the scheme

3) There will be an election.

The truth is this was an unexpected disaster, from the Pro-slavery wing of the regime it falls right into their plans allowing a more graded introduction to the modern world of slavery which the tinpot regime, amid a massive, lying and pathetic Propaganda campaign will claim as ‘consent’. Perhaps this worthless delay ‘won’ by the Lords on ID cards could be interpreted as nothing more than a symbolic wink to the middle classes to now leave the UK entirely, ‘we don’t want you’, ‘if you have self worth then you’re not welcome, we only want plebs and slaves and idiots forever dependent and in awe of the state and it’s corporate friends’.

Blair sees the plan for endless War and the War on terror. He agrees with it. Blair sees globalisation. He agrees with it. Blair sees biometric passports from America as a result of 9/11. He agrees with it and ID cards. Blair sees the EU asking for more investment for nothing in return. He agrees with it. Blair is lobbied by the gambling and alcohol industry. He agrees with what they want. Blair is lobbied by the supermarket monopoly. He agrees with what they want.

Do you see a pattern here ? Every single rancid notion that comes up out the drain of power, Blair automatically agrees with and describes it as the ‘modern world’. There is no dissent, no controversy, just this endless buying into, then repackaging of the issues as ‘modern’ and ‘right’.

The eradication of the middle class to replaced with a slave class. The abolition of: parliament, the rule of law, the upper chamber. The formal and visible establishment of a new global corporatist ruling class. Endless War, abolition of self-determination in favour of global corporatism. Globalisation as the new basis for all society. Forcing more people into the criminal justice system.

All essential principles vigourously pursued by a fanatical Blair and his corrupt useless lapdogs like Charles Clarke to make Britian fit for the 21st century.

One wonders if the real reason Blair has been so ’successful’, is very little to do with ‘connecting with the electorate’ as the compromised BBC would have you believe, but because he is never in disagreement with anything anybody in real power wants and will not only do it, but repaint it as his own and glorify it. If you just agree with everything then you can never really loose.

And as Britain is being destroyed, what is Cameron’s approach ?

Agree with Blair.

Apparently, he seems to feel the need to build his case on the layers of worthless lies already constructed by Blair and the chunks of cowardly, doting controlled Media still under the spell of Blair’s personality cult. According to Cameron, Conservative fortunes are dependent on appearing more shallow, more degenerate, more worthless than even Blair himself as some symbol of ‘modernity’, either that or Cameron is deliberately planning to throw the election.

From Cameron’s point of view if you really can’t win an election in the face of Iraq, Afghanistan, possibly Iran, a world torture programme, the end of Parliament and the rule of law, a [police/nanny] state out of control, an ID slave grid, a coronated Brown, Labour membership in decline, wealthy donors leaving Labour in shame, endless stealth taxation etc etc etc then there is a real fundemental problem here.

Reuters says Cameron is ’seeking to transform the party of Margaret Thatcher into a modern and compassionate party’

What does ‘modern’ mean, what is modern really code for ? All _something_ shortlists ? Pro ID slave grid ? Pro targets in the NHS ? Pro bureaucracy ? Pro enormous taxation ? Pro giant government ? Pro bird flu ? Pro the undemocratic Bilderberg-selected quango of the European Commission ?

Or is modern actually nothing to do with any public perception of the Conservatives, but yet more code for don’t stand in the way of convergence of financial and politcal power, globalisation, War and suppression of the population?

If Cameron actually gave a hoot about the destruction of the United Kingdom, he would stop flapping about, wrestling with fake nebulous rubbish handed to him by the Media, and start pulling this government to pieces with hard truths, that he isn’t doing so is cause for grave concern.

That said, it’s not all gloomy. A few days ago, the Guardian ran a piece called ‘Blair’s inner circle and it’s ferocious grab for power‘ describing this destruction of society and how New Labour are undermining democracy and turning the UK into a living prision as they ever claw for more and more control.

Well I hate to say I told you so, but well duh…yes and when you see members of the Lords likening Blair’s ID slave grid database to a Nazi one, when senior judges and lawyers are likening Blair’s undermining of the independence of the courts as having frightening parallels to Nazi germany (and these were all last year), you really can’t ignore that kind of opinion.

The reality in the UK is very very very serious indeed, nonetheless, there are are still some wide sections of the more popular Media who broadly want their audience to accept (if not actually believe) the garbage that comes out of Blair and Brown. That is very worrying.

Now of course, New Labour are trying to make it so they can change laws by order on a whim without Parliament at all, and they are now trying to effectively remove the upper chamber altogether. Yes your country is being destroyed, you are being put into tyranny.

Myself, as I’ve committed to, I won’t be taking the card, and I won’t be going into the slave database, whether I leave or stay and fight I don’t know at this stage, but this country is in real trouble and Britain needs to start facing up to it’s problems and pretty fast, this monster called New Labour needs slaying. No ifs, no buts.

I wouldn’t worry though, there isn’t really a rule of law here these days, it’s been replaced by a quasi-political /technological /parastatal/corporate condition of supression as Blair, Brown, Levy and friends prepare to take the country into more wars, so don’t worry about getting on the DNA or terrorist database as you react instinctively and violently to being dragged into the ID slave grid, it literally just doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Quote

» The New Labour monster: time to slay it – RINF Alternative News

http://www.rinf.com/columnists/news/the-new-labour-monster-time-to-slay-it

Published in: on April 11, 2006 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment