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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


UK: ONS data show that the 'pandemic of the unvaccinated' was always a myth

vaccine booster tee shirt covid protest satire
The ONS published its latest report on deaths by vaccination status on August 25th 2023. It covers the period from April 1st 2021 to May 1st 2023. I thought you might be interested in the relative all-cause death rate of the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.

The report also covers Covid deaths. However, I'm somewhat sceptical of 'Covid' deaths as many Covid deaths were deaths 'with' Covid not 'of' Covid, so for this analysis I'm only showing the all-cause deaths.

Let's start with all-cause deaths of all people in England over 18 years of age by month from April 2021 to the end of May 2023, as shown in Figure 1.


Study finds face masks decrease cognitive function and increase reaction time

nurses wearing face masks
© Susan Merrell
Prolonged wearing of a surgical face mask, made compulsory in many settings in many countries during the Covid years, reduces cognitive function and increases reaction time in addition to increasing shortness of breath and fatigue. These are the findings of a study published in Nurse Education in Practice, an international peer reviewed journal, on September 15th 2023.

The study, carried out in Turkey and titled 'The effect of prolonged use of surgical masks during face-to-face teaching on cognitive and physiological parameters of nursing students: a cross-sectional and descriptive study' involved 61 nursing students who volunteered to participate in the study. The sample size was determined to be adequate for the study using the statistical method of power analysis. Information was collected on cognitive fatigue and dyspnoea (shortness of breath) using a self-administered questionnaire and cognitive reaction time was measured objectively using an app. Body temperature and blood oxygen saturation were also measured.

Comment: Any parent of a small child subjected to prolonged masking could have told you the study's conclusions.


Popular nasal decongestant doesn't actually relieve congestion, FDA advisers say

© AP Photo
The leading decongestant used by millions of Americans looking for relief from a stuffy nose is no better than a dummy pill, according to government experts who reviewed the latest research on the long-questioned drug ingredient.

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Tuesday against the effectiveness of the key drug found in popular versions of Sudafed, Dayquil and other medications stocked on store shelves.

"Modern studies, when well conducted, are not showing any improvement in congestion with phenylephrine," said Dr. Mark Dykewicz, an allergy specialist at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

The FDA assembled its outside advisers to take another look at phenylephrine, which became the main drug in over-the-counter decongestants when medicines with an older ingredient — pseudoephedrine — were moved behind pharmacy counters. A 2006 law had forced the move because pseudoephedrine can be illegally processed into methamphetamine.

Microscope 2

Study reveals why cancer may spread to the spine

© Jun Sun
A new stem cell that forms the spine was transplanted into a model organism and allowed to form a miniature vertebral bone (red). Breast cancer tumor cells (green) invaded the bone, demonstrating that this new spine stem cell is responsible for recruiting breast cancer cells.
The vertebral bones that form the spine are derived from a distinct type of stem cell that secretes a protein favoring tumor metastases, according to a study led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine. The discovery opens up a new line of research on spinal disorders, helps explain why solid tumors so often spread to the spine, and could lead to new orthopedic and cancer treatments.

In the study, published Sept. 13 in Nature, the researchers discovered that vertebral bone is derived from a stem cell that is different from other bone-making stem cells. Using bone-like "organoids" made from vertebral stem cells, they showed that the known tendency of tumors to spread to the spine — more than to long bones such as leg bones — is due largely to a protein called MFGE8, secreted by these stem cells.

"We suspect that many bone diseases preferentially involving the spine are attributable to the distinct properties of vertebral bone stem cells," said study senior author Dr. Matthew Greenblatt, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a member of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and a pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

In recent years, Dr. Greenblatt and other scientists have found that different types of bone are derived from different types of bone stem cells. Since vertebrae, in comparison with other bones such as arm and leg bones, develop along a different pathway early in life, and also appear to have had a distinct evolutionary trajectory, Dr. Greenblatt and his team hypothesized that a distinct vertebral stem cell probably exists.


California legislature passes first-in-the-nation ban on dangerous additives

© Shutterstock/KJN/Getty Images
California to ban ingredients found in common foods: hamburger buns (potassium bromate), orange soda (brominated vegetable oil), candy and and corn tortillas (propyl paraben).
Today, the California State Legislature passed first-of-its-kind legislation to prohibit the use of four dangerous chemicals in processed foods and drinks sold in California. Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), Assembly Bill (AB) 418 - the California Food Safety Act - would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution in California of any food product containing Red Dye No. 3, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben. The use of these chemicals has already been banned in the 27 nations in the European Union (EU) as well as many other countries due to scientific research linking them to significant health harms, including cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral and developmental issues in children.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel remarked:
"Today's bipartisan vote marks a huge step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply. It's unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety. This bill will not ban any foods or products - it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe.

"There's a readily available substitute for each of these ingredients. For example, sorbic acid is often used instead of propyl paraben, ester gum instead of brominated vegetable oil, and calcium carbonate instead of titanium dioxide.

"It's possible for companies to make a healthy profit without poisoning kids. In many cases they now have increased confidence from consumers who want to buy foods that are healthy."
Former Governor and sports and fitness icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently endorsed AB 418 in his daily Pump Club Newsletter, said:
"Things like this aren't partisan. They're common sense. I'm a small government guy. But I've also seen that sometimes, in a world where every big industry has an army of lobbyists, and our kids have no one fighting for them, government has to step in."
AB 418 was amended in the State Senate to remove titanium dioxide from the list of banned additives and to delay implementation of the bill until 2027, thereby giving food companies more than enough time to negotiate new contracts and phase in new recipes.

Comment: What foods are these dangerous ingredients in, and why?
Brominated vegetable oil is used in sports drinks and sodas as an emulsifier — a substance that helps blend liquids that don't otherwise blend easily, such as oil and water. (According to the FDA, it keeps citrus flavorings from separating and floating to the top of the beverage.) According to a database hosted by the EWG, it's used in about 70 sodas and beverages, most of them vibrantly colored and citrus-flavored.

Potassium bromate is a flour "improver," added to strengthen dough, make baked goods rise higher in the oven, and enhance their texture. The EWG counts some 180 products containing potassium bromate, including many packaged breads, dumplings, and frozen foods.

Propyl paraben is used as a preservative, extending the shelf life of packaged foods by preventing growth of mold and bacteria. It can be found in more than 50 products in U.S. grocery stores, including many packaged corn tortillas, baked desserts, and cake icing, according to the EWG.

Red Dye No. 3, also known as FD&C Red No. 3, red dye 3, and erythrosine, is a food coloring used to give a bright, cherry-red color to thousands of food products now on shelves, including candies, baked goods, snacks, cereals, and sodas.

Titanium dioxide is also used as a food coloring, in this case to make coffee creamers, baking decorations, and sauces appear whiter than they otherwise would, and in some candy and other products as a kind of "paint primer" to make other colors, added later, appear more vivid.

What Are the Safety Concerns?

Peer-reviewed studies conducted on rodents have linked brominated vegetable oil (BVO) to neurological problems; thyroid, heart and liver problems; and behavioral, developmental and reproductive issues.

Potassium bromate has been linked to cancer.

Propyl paraben has been shown to cause endocrine disruption and reproductive issues in lab animal testing.

Red Dye No. 3 has been found to cause cancer and thyroid tumors in lab animals and has been linked to hyperactivity and other neurobehavioral effects in children. Health effects like these led the FDA to ban its use in cosmetics more than 30 years ago.

Titanium dioxide has been linked to digestive tract problems, and it was banned in Europe because scientists there could not rule out genotoxicity, the ability of the substance to damage genetic information in the body's cells

So Why Are These Additives in Our Food?

The short answer is that it's technically legal to use them in food, and nobody with authority — notably, the FDA — is saying otherwise. These additives have been used in food in the U.S. for decades and, as the National Confectioners Association says in its letter opposing AB-418, most have been evaluated and approved for that use by the FDA. (Propyl paraben is an exception; see below.)

The problem, health and safety advocates say, is that those FDA approvals are now decades old. Bromated vegetable oil was last meaningfully reviewed by the FDA for safety in 1977; potassium bromate in 1973; propyl paraben in 1977; Red Dye No. 3 in 1982; and titanium dioxide in 1966.

Since then, there has been a sea change in the scientific understanding of these additives, their health effects, and, more broadly, the ways that chemicals can negatively affect human health in both the short and long term. The technologies and methods used to analyze health risks have also changed dramatically in recent decades.

Why Isn't the FDA Doing More?

Part of the reason is that the FDA doesn't get adequate funding from Congress for food chemical reviews, says CR's Ronholm. But the agency has also failed to prioritize food chemical issues, he adds.

Indeed, a recent independent panel evaluation of the FDA's Human Food Program, commissioned by the agency in the wake of last year's baby formula crisis, acknowledged the budget issue but also described a program lacking leadership and strategic vision and plagued by structural problems, a "culture of indecisiveness and inaction," and an atmosphere of "constant turmoil" and "aversion to risk."

In response, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf pledged to begin putting the panel's recommendations in place and said the effort would be a "top priority for the agency," and later announced plans to hire a new deputy commissioner to lead, among other things, "programs aimed at preventing and responding to chemical, microbial, and other hazards."

How Can You Avoid These Ingredients?

Short answer: Read the ingredients list. If they're in the food, they have to be listed.

In addition, keep in mind that numerous large food manufacturers and retailers have pledged not to use some or all of these additives or sell products that contain some or all of them. Whole Foods and Kroger appear to be the only grocery chains that have promised to rid their shelves of these ingredients altogether, but Aldi, Food Lion, Giant, Publix, ShopRite, and SuperValu say they have removed them from certain store brands. In addition, the Coca-Cola Company, Dunkin Donuts, Panera, Papa Johns, and PepsiCo have each pledged not to use or sell products with some of these additives.


The food industry pays 'influencer' dietitians to shape your eating habits

tiktok influencers, aspartame
© The Washington Post
As the World Health Organization raised questions this summer about the risks of a popular artificial sweetener, a new hashtag began spreading on the social media accounts of health professionals: #safetyofaspartame.

Steph Grasso, a registered dietitian from Oakton, Va., used the hashtag and told her 2.2 million followers on TikTok that the WHO warnings about artificial sweeteners were "clickbait" based on "low-quality science."

Another dietitian, Cara Harbstreet of Kansas City, reassured her Instagram followers not to worry about "fear mongering headlines" about aspartame because "the evidence doesn't suggest there's a reason for concern."

In a third video, Mary Ellen Phipps, a Houston-area dietitian who specializes in diabetes care, sipped from a glass of soda and told her Instagram viewers that artificial sweeteners "satisfy the desire for sweetness" without affecting blood sugar or insulin levels.

What these dietitians didn't make clear was that they were paid to post the videos by American Beverage, a trade and lobbying group representing Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other companies.

In all, at least 35 posts from a dozen health professionals were part of the coordinated campaign by American Beverage. The trade group paid an undisclosed amount to 10 registered dietitians, as well as a physician and a fitness influencer, to use their social media accounts to help blunt the WHO's claims that aspartame, a mainstay of Diet Coke and other sodas, is ineffective for weight loss and "possibly carcinogenic."


WHO's 'take over' of Youtube portends Orwellian medical dystopia

Their tube
The World Health Organization and YouTube merge into a dystopian one-size-fits-all medical misinformation paradigm where "prevention" equals vaccination or mammography, but step away from your vitamin cabinet or using food as medicine because that's no longer acceptable according to their new policies.

On August 15th, Youtube announced it is adopting WHO's medical misinformation policies, ushering in a 'one world, one narrative' digital governance structure which will render free speech, and by implication - informed medical choice - non-existent for users on its already heavily censorship prone platform.

From this point onward, any content that contradicts or diverges from the WHO's official health guidance may be deemed "harmful content" in violation of Youtube's "Community Guidelines" and will now be subject to censorship or removal.

In a post titled, "A long term vision for YouTube's medical misinformation policies," Youtube shared its "thinking about the future of medical misinformation policies, including removing cancer misinformation."


The original 'asymptomatic spreader' was NOT asymptomatic: she took paracetamol

As flagged by Will Jones here on the Daily Sceptic, a recent Lancet study shows that asymptomatic people are only responsible for a small fraction of SARS-CoV-2 viral emissions, thus exploding the myth of extensive asymptomatic transmission, which was one of the central tenets of the COVID-19 response. But what about the original 'asymptomatic spreader' whose case was widely reported in the medical literature and the international media? Well, it turns out she was precisely not asymptomatic. She was sick and took medication.

On January 30th 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine published a letter from a group of German doctors and scientists documenting the case of a Chinese businesswoman from Shanghai who had recently travelled to Germany, where she was at the origin of Germany's first cluster of infections despite the fact that she had not yet developed symptoms herself. See the below screen shot from the NEJM homepage circa the following day (courtesy of the Wayback Machine).


Cancer cases in under-50s up worldwide by nearly 80% in three decades, study finds

© da-kuk/Getty Images
An MRI scan for lung cancer. The researchers say poor diets, alcohol and tobacco use, physical inactivity and obesity are likely to be among the factors in the rise.
The number of under-50s worldwide being diagnosed with cancer has risen by nearly 80% in three decades, according to the largest study of its kind.

Global cases of early onset cancer increased from 1.82 million in 1990 to 3.26 million in 2019, while cancer deaths of adults in their 40s, 30s or younger grew by 27%. More than a million under-50s a year are now dying of cancer, the research reveals.

Experts are still in the early stages of understanding the reasons behind the rise in cases. The authors of the study, published in BMJ Oncology, say poor diets, alcohol and tobacco use, physical inactivity and obesity are likely to be among the factors.

Comment: Less people smoke than ever before, and alcohol use may have increased, but only slightly, so it seems unlikely that the soaring cancer rates can be attributed to those. However, the kinds of food people eat, in addition to the food itself has change radically - GMOs, as just one example - and, indeed, a great many more people live sedentary lives; although it's unlikely these issues are solely to blame either, because active people who are 'healthy' eaters suffer from cancer too.

"Since 1990, the incidence and deaths of early onset cancers have substantially increased globally," the report says. "Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, the restriction of tobacco and alcohol consumption and appropriate outdoor activity, could reduce the burden of early onset cancer."

Comment: Notably there's no mention of the significant increase in vaccines children in the developed world suffer; nor is there any thought given to society, family, people's mental health, and living standards. all of which are likely to have a significant impact on one's health, and have, overall, deteriorated rapidly in the last few decades.


Can we go from "a variant of no concern" to "the largest vaccination rollout in the UK?"

expose vaccine
The rollout of flu and COVID-19 vaccines has been brought forward to September 11th due to the emergence of what is being termed "a new variant" that apparently came to light on 18th August. At the moment there has been little incitement of fear, yet, at the beginning of the year, the UK Health Security Agency said they "expected the largest vaccination programme in the UK."

Not a "Variant of Concern"

"NHS officials have indicated the BA.2.86 - which "came to light" on 18th August - "is the most concerning since the arrival of Omicron." Yet scientists also say it has mutated but has not been classed as a "variant of concern," reported Sky News.

Nevertheless, they added that the "Vaccination efforts aimed at care home residents and those who are immunocompromised will now start on 11 September rather than the initial October date. This group will be followed by carers, pregnant women, social care personnel, and individuals aged 65 and above, all of whom will receive booster shots this upcoming winter."