AS COLLEGE PROFESSORS, my colleagues and I have always enjoyed the enthusiastic students who are eager to learn more. Those who stand out in my memory are those who have requested more reading material. I have taught basic introductory biology, genetics, bioinformatics, courses in high-dimensional genomic and proteomic data analysis, and courses in study design and research ethics – and I always loved the gleam in the eye of students who just want to know.
Paging Dr. Offit!
Dr. Paul Offit earned millions of dollars from the sale of his patent for the Rotavirus vaccine after he voted to have it included in the pediatric vaccine schedule. He also appears to not be familiar with the body of peer-reviewed literature that condemns aluminum as a serious neurotoxin with well-characterized mechanisms of neurological damage.
In his book, “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All” (Basic Books, New York), Offit is irresponsibly and recklessly dismissive of aluminum as a serious threat to the health of nearly all people by falsely reporting that:
“aluminum has been found to be harmful in only two groups of people: severely premature infants who receive large quantities of aluminum in intravenous fluids, and people on chronic dialysis (for kidney failure) who receive large quantities of aluminum in antacids”.
People absorb around very little of the aluminum they eat, but they absorb 100% of the aluminum injected in to their blood stream. [GENEROUSLY OFFERED CORRECTION/DETAILS: From Vaccine Papers, Al absorption from food is about 0.3%, typically within a range of 0.1-1%]. Offit claims, without citation, that aluminum in very quickly cleared from the body. He cites “researchers” (without citations) who studied aluminum concentrations in “blood” before and after receipt of aluminum-containing vaccines, and reports “No difference”.
Offit’s book was published in 2011. Unfortunately, it is evident that Offit did not even bother to search of the Pubmed, a wonderful public scientific research literature database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the standard resource for researchers who desire to know the latest on research topics in medicine, biology, psychiatry, and many other disciplines. A search reveals over 200 studies or papers on aluminum neurotoxicity before 2011. At the time of this writing (Nov. 2015), there are 393 studies or papers on the neurotoxicity of aluminum.
Some of these studies include direct discussions on the risk of aluminum in adjuvants in vaccines and provide data that demonstrate how aluminum works as a neurotoxin. Others discuss ways to alleviate neurotoxicity of aluminum. Others describe aluminum as a well-known neurotoxin responsible as a causal agent for neurodegenerative diseases.
Surely Offit, an expert placed on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, the body in HHS responsible for making decisions on changes to the pediatric vaccine schedule, would have bothered to check the literature prior to 2011 while writing his book? If he had, he would have found studies with some compelling titles. The abstracts, and the papers themselves, are damning evidence for the use of aluminum as a vaccine adjuvant.
Here are some titles of the studies available at the time of his book-writing that individuals who are serious about vaccine safety might be interested in. Dr. Offit, for your convenience, I have included the links directly to the Pubmed entry:
“Long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide is associated with chronic cognitive dysfunction.” (2009)
“Aluminum hydroxide injections lead to motor deficits and motor neuron degeneration.” (2009)
“Aluminum-induced defective mitochondrial metabolism perturbs cytoskeletal dynamics in human astrocytoma cells.“(2009)
“Role of metal ions in the abeta oligomerization in Alzheimer’s disease and in other neurological disorders.” (2008)
“Aluminum adjuvant linked to Gulf War illness induces motor neuron death in mice.” (2007)
“Neurological adverse events of immunization: experience with an aluminum adjuvanted meningococcal B outer membrane vesicle vaccine.” (2007)
“Mechanisms of aluminum-induced neurodegeneration in animals: Implications for Alzheimer’s disease.” (2007)
“Inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and environmental exposures.” (2004)
“Chronic exposure to aluminum in drinking water increases inflammatory parameters selectively in the brain.” (2004)
“Neurotoxic effects of aluminium among foundry workers and Alzheimer’s disease.” (2004)
“Neurological adverse events associated with vaccination.” (2002)
“The potential role of aluminium in Alzheimer’s disease.” (2002)
Just in case Dr. Offit is still involved in vaccine research, development or policy, and since he makes statements that appear in news articles on vaccine safety, I have taken the time to create a second reading list of more recent articles as well that Dr. Offit can add to his first reading list. Medical doctors really should keep abreast of new developments in medical research to stay professionally accredited.
But first, I have a hypothesis to share, which is indicated by past studies of numerous types. It came to me during my research for my forthcoming book, “Genetic and Environmental Causes of Autism”.
Is Macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF) Vaccine-Related Adult-Onset Autism/ASD?
A study in 2001 – a full decade before Offit’s book – reported central nervous system ailments eerily similar to those found in autism in patients diagnosed with macrophagic myofasciitis, symptomatic demyelinating CNS disorder, hemisensory or sensorimotor symptoms, bilateral pyramidal signs, cerebellar signs, visual loss, cognitive and behavioural disorders, and bladder dysfunction, supratentorial white matter hyperintense signals and corpus callosum atrophy (Authier et al., 2001).
Clinical features of MMF as described by Rigolet et al., (2014) are also strongly reminiscent of autism, including marked cognitive deficits (not related to pain, fatigue, or depression) including dysexecutive syndrome and visual memory impairment, and some cognitive deficits can appear unusually severe. Cognitive dysfunction was found to be stable over time. They also report that “classical therapeutic approaches are usually unsatisfactory making patient care difficult”.
Autism also involves cognitive deficits, executive function issues, memory impairment, and can involve severe cognitive deficits that are recalcitrant to treatment.
Additional Findings Support the Hypothesis
Mice injected with aluminum adjuvant doses equivalent to those given to US military service personnel showed both neuroinflammation and cell loss in the spinal cord and motor cortex, with consequent memory deficits (Petrik et al., 2007).
The cause of MMF has since been identified aluminum hydroxide from vaccines lesions (Gherardi et al., 2001; Authier et al., 2006; Gherardi et al., 2012; Rigolet M et al., 2014). Patients with MMF have an unusually long reaction at the site of injection of aluminum-containing vaccines in their muscle, and biospies show infiltration of muscle tissue by macrophages.
Here is chilling description of the effect of aluminum when used as an adjuvant:
“…poorly biodegradable aluminum-coated particles injected into muscle are promptly phagocytosed in muscle and the draining lymph nodes, and can disseminate within phagocytic cells throughout the body and slowly accumulate in the brain” (Gherardi et al., 2015).
This is important: microglial cells are macrophages with dual roles in the brain: they perform routine surveillance and clean-up of cellular debris, viruses and bacteria. Upon infection, or serious brain damage, however, they become activated, change shape, and go on the attack. Microglial overactivation is a leading candidate for increased apoptosis and neurological damage associated with autism.
The neurotoxic effects of aluminum salts are also apparent: it increases levels of glial activation, inflammatory cytokines and amyloid precursor protein within the brain (Bondy, 2010). Amyloid precursor protein is one of the main culprits for Alzheimer’s disease.
The medical community and the public should revisit the issue of whether aluminum is a necessary adjuvant for vaccines. Evidently, for some vaccines that use virus-like particles as opposed to attenuated or live virus vaccines, no adjuvant is needed.
Reading List #2
Here is the rest of Dr. Offit’s reading list of studies and papers published after 2010:
“Trace elements in scalp hair samples from patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.” (2015)
“Correlation of aluminum and manganese concentration in scalp hair samples of patients having neurological disorders.” (2015)
“Aluminum-induced entropy in biological systems: implications for neurological disease.” (2014)
“Are there negative CNS impacts of aluminum adjuvants used in vaccines and immunotherapy?” (2014)
“A sudden onset of a pseudo-neurological syndrome after HPV-16/18 AS04-adjuvated vaccine: might it be an autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) presenting as a somatoform disorder?” (2014)
“Elevated brain aluminium and early onset Alzheimer’s disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium: a case report.” (2014)
“Prolonged exposure to low levels of aluminum leads to changes associated with brain aging and neurodegeneration.” (2014)
“Administration of aluminium to neonatal mice in vaccine-relevant amounts is associated with adverse long term neurological outcomes.” (2013)
“Aluminum in the central nervous system (CNS): toxicity in humans and animals, vaccine adjuvants, and autoimmunity.” (2013)
“Autoimmune/autoinflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA syndrome) in commercial sheep.” (2013)
“How aluminum, an intracellular ROS generator promotes hepatic and neurological diseases: the metabolic tale.” (2013)
“Aluminum toxicity and astrocyte dysfunction: a metabolic link to neurological disorders.” (2011)
“Aluminum vaccine adjuvants: are they safe?” (2011)
“Metal ions affecting the neurological system.” (2011)
To be clear, Dr. Offit’s book could not include the references from the second reading list, as his book was published in 2011. But in the page and a half he takes to uses to claim that aluminum is only a problem for people with kidney failure and premature infants is terribly misleading, and is now also woefully out of date. As he and his profit-driven colleagues saw fit to allow vaccinations in babies between the age of 1 day to 2 years, it is of little reassurance that he knew that aluminum was harmful to premature babies.
Perhaps Dr. Offit was also not aware that the WHO Vaccine Safety Advisory Committee had, long before 2011, reported that there may be a subset of predisposed individuals who may be sensitive to aluminum-containing adjuvant (Authier et al., 2001).
Published scientific knowledge does not appear to play a role in the formation of vaccination policy in the United States.
November 16, 2015 (updated 11:22 AM)
Dr. James Lyons-Weiler is author of “Ebola: An Evolving Story” and “Cures vs. Profits: Successes in Translational Research“. He is also President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK). IPAK is a pure public charity dedicated to providing impartial interpretation of research results without the influence of profit pressures. You can support IPAK with donations via the web. Your generous support will help Dr. Lyons-Weiler and his colleagues continue their efforts to keep the public, including Dr. Offit, informed.
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Authier FJ et al., 2001. Central nervous system disease in patients with macrophagic myofasciitis. Brain. 124(Pt 5):974-83.
Authier FJ, et al. 2006. AlOH3-adjuvanted vaccine-induced macrophagic myofasciitis in rats is influenced by the genetic background. Neuromuscul Disord 16(5):347–52.10.1016/j.nmd.2006.02.004
Bondy SC. 2010. The neurotoxicity of environmental aluminum is still an issue. Neurotoxicology. 31(5):575-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2010.05.009.
Gherardi RK, et al. 2001. Macrophagic myofasciitis lesions assess long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminium hydroxide in muscle. Brain 124(Pt 9):1821–31.10.1093/brain/124.9.1821
Gherardi RK et al., 2001. Macrophagic myofasciitis lesions assess long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminium hydroxide in muscle. Brain. 124(Pt 9):1821-31.
Gherardi R and Authier FJ. 2012. Macrophagic myofasciitis: characterization and pathophysiology. Lupus 21(2):184–9.10.1177/0961203311429557
Gherardi RK et al., 2015. Biopersistence and brain translocation of aluminum adjuvants of vaccines. Front Neurol. 2015 Feb 5;6:4. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00004. eCollection 2015.
Petrik MS et al., 2007. Aluminum adjuvant linked to Gulf War illness induces motor neuron death in mice. Neuromolecular Med 9:83–100.
Rigolet M et al., 2014. Clinical features in patients with long-lasting macrophagic myofasciitis. Front Neurol. 5:230. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00230. eCollection 2014.
New Books Released 2016
Cures vs. Profits: Successes in Translational Research (World Scientific (323 pages).
The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism (Skyhorse Publishing)
Books and Publications by James Lyons-Weiler
Small correction/clarification: Offit voted to have another rotavirus vaccine (Rotashield, not his own) added to the schedule, while he was still working on his own, which was added later. He did not vote on his own, but as a member of the committee, was permitted to convince the rest of the committee to vote for it.
While we’re on the subject of Offit and rotavirus, I’d like to point out that, according to the US National Vital Statistics Reports, rotavirus was NEVER a major cause of pediatric death in the US. Before the introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine, pediatric deaths from diarrhea from ALL causes numbered about 300 per year. Diarrhea from all causes would presumably include rotavirus (if it existed) as well as bacterial infections, viral infections, food allergies, undiagnosed celiac disease, food poisoning, and too much Halloween candy.
AFTER the introduction of the vaccine, the number of pediatric diarrheal deaths nearly doubled.
Among the common side effects of the vaccine: diarrhea.
There are also hundreds of reports of severe adverse reactions to the vaccine, including intussusception and death.
Most fascinating of all: rotavirus, like polio, is transmitted via the fecal/oral route. To clarify, that means that in order to catch the disease, one has to make mouth contact with infected feces.
Individuals vaccinated with any of the available rotavirus vaccines (including Offit’s) shed infected feces for several weeks following vaccination.
Feel free to add this information to your blog post.
I am wondering if the number from the US National Vital Statistics Report is inflated, or if the number from this report is off? Just like the CDC’s “deaths from flu” numbers are garbage.
“Finally, about 20 deaths occurs each year due to rotavirus diarrhea among children younger than 5 years, 1, 6 for cumulative incidence by age 5 of 0.000005 (1 in 195000 children). ”
Cost-effectiveness Analysis of a Rotavirus Immunization Program for the United States. JAMA 1998.
What are your thoughts?
Thank you, Researcher for this additional information! The value of Offit’s vaccine was based on its prospected use in addition to the one put on the schedule, so the technical point you make is correct, but the conflict of interest speaks for itself, don’t you think?
Thank-you for this excellent post.
Paul Offit continues to insult the intelligence of the American public with his nonsensical assurances that “aluminum in vaccines is safe” because “there is more aluminum in breast milk than in vaccines given to infants.”
Clearly, Dr. Offit needs to go back to school and pay attention this time in Pharmacology 101. He appears to have either been sleeping or skipping class when the difference between ingestion and injection was covered. Unfortunately, there appears to be ongoing epidemics of narcolepsy and/or truancy in medical schools these days.
On October 20, 2015, I attended a “Vaccine Education Talk” at the University of Southern Indiana. The speaker was Andrew Kroger, M.D., M.P.H. from National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The talk was part of the 2015 Corcoran Lecture Series, sponsored by the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Dr. Kroger addressed a room full of more than 200 pre-med students, nursing and other health professions students, and faculty. He repeated the same ridiculous garbage and lauded Dr. Offit as the expert on vaccine safety because “Infants can theoretically receive 10,000 vaccine (antigens) at once without overloading their immune systems.” Semantic trickery at it’s finest. “Antigens” obviously are not the same as vaccines, since “antigens” do not include the many toxic ingredients in vaccines given to our infants and children on an inflated schedule that recommends 9-10 vaccines at once, with amounts of aluminum up to 1.2 mg. in bolus doses at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age. Oh… and it’s “safe” because “the total amount of aluminum injected in the first year of life from vaccines is ONLY approximately 4.2 mg., which, when averaged out over 365 days, does not exceed the daily limit for safety.”
Yep… These tools definitely need to be schooled.
And they are the ones who are “teaching” our “health professionals.”
This article contains an error: Al absorption from food is about 0.3%, typically within a range of 0.1-1%, NOT 0.01%.
Thank you Vaccine Papers – your post is very informative as well. I have updated.
How many vaccines are injected directly in the blood stream? Can you give some citations which confirm that people absorb 100% of the aluminum injected in to their blood stream?
Pro Vaccin – Thank you for your interest. Aluminum is used to keep the antigen around long enough for the immune system to detect and react to the antigens in the vaccine – it also activates the immune system and is therefore thought to improve efficacy.
The comparison between ingested aluminum and injected aluminum is made because some have tried to make comparisons to the amount of aluminum in food, (for example, baby formula, in which <1% absorbed, little chance of toxicity, and injection (into the body – all of it interacts with the blood compartment via interstitial fluid, i.e., 100% interacts with internal tissues, organs, and the immune system. The comparison of amounts of aluminum in food and in directly inject aluminum is irrelevant and fails to demonstrate that aluminum is safe.
You will find references re: absorption and better information clearance rates at Vaccine Papers' page on Dr. Offit
They also point out that Offit is wrong for stating that aluminum is a nutrient, and is "good" for us.
I understand that we need to compare the absorbed quantities but I do also have to emphasize that the vaccines are not injected in veins.
I believe in natural immunity we were made that way!!!
Point taken. More relevant – absorption via the intestines into the bloodstream then from bloodstream into organs is one route. Injection into muscle then pick-up by macrophages in the interstitial fluid then into the bloodstream then into organs, including the brain, is another route.
All these routes have different absorption rates in organs. I’m still not convinced that 100% of injected Al in veins remains in the organs and I assume less than that remains via the intramuscular injection. Even so we do not vaccinate ourselves every day so why would one compare the absorption from one vaccine dose with the absorption from a meal?
Absorption by the body is sufficient to cause exposure beyond that which is possible via ingestion. That’s the point. I never said nor meant to imply that all of the aluminum in vaccines are absorbed by organs, so thanks for the opportunity to clarify. However, you raise an important issue. Clearance studies of mercury, for example, looked at levels “in the blood” and as levels of ethyl mercury measured in the blood dropped faster than methyl mercury, it was assumed to be due to clearance. When total recovery from urine and feces and organs is done, it has been found that some of the “clearance” from the blood is from deposition in organs (more so for EtHg). We need to much, much more careful with our assumptions about the fates of metabolites of adjuvants than blood concentration measures.
Is it possible that the title of Offit’s book on your blog should say antivaccine vs vaccine?
Dr. Mariano – yes, you are quite correct. The error was unintentional. Thank you, a correction has been made.
I find it rather sad that those students that “just want to know” would come to you for that knowledge. You clearly have an agenda here as your arguments are wholly one-sided:
-your literature citations are for the most part theoretical or conducted in mice. As an instructor in biology, you must appreciate that mice very often lie (both ways, for and against vaccine safety and efficacy), yet this is nowhere mentioned in your diatribe
-personal attacks unrelated to data will get you nowhere for those of us who seek decisions based on a balanced view
-please read the full article(or at the very least, the abstract) before posting it as support for your theory that vaccines are harmful (e.g. your citation ““Neurological adverse events of immunization: experience with an aluminum adjuvanted meningococcal B outer membrane vesicle vaccine.” makes the statement: “Serious neurological adverse events have, in almost all cases, been proven to be coincidental and not caused by the vaccine”
-many of your citations are studies funded by anti-vaccine groups (notably the Dwoskin Foundation). Nuff said.
-perhaps most importantly, unlike the studies you cite (theoretical, animal, or clinical studies that were inadequately powered to warrant ANY conclusion), you fail to cite the largest meta-analyses conducted on adverse events related to vaccination. These are the two very large studies conducted by the Institute of Medicine that concluded that most vaccines were indeed safe (including those with aluminum salts). Though I suppose you would claim that the IM (and the NIH, and the FDA, and the CDC, and the ACIP, and the American Pediatrics Society, etc., etc. are all “in bed with Big Pharma). Must have been a slight oversight, right? Google it.
Yes, I do pity those unfortunate few that restrict their thirst for knowledge from either you or Offit alone. Let’s hope they have the real sense to look at both sides.
Thank you for the feedback. Yes, I have taught biology. But also courses in ecology, genetics, population genetics, research study design, high-throughput genomic and proteomic data analysis, and bioinformatics.
Re: your claim that I have an agenda, I suppose anyone confronted with such as biased bolus of misleading and harmful propaganda as I was while reading Offit’s representation of aluminum as a nutrient, good for the fetus might have an agenda. When the Catholic church was burning people at the stake for espousing heliocentric views of reality, I suppose those who stated the heliocentric model could be accused of having an agenda: of correcting the misinformation.
I never claimed that my blog article was unbiased. It is clearly a directed literature search for evidence that falsifies the ridiculous claim that aluminum in not a neurotoxin. I think anyone can see that. But it is the literature search that Paul Offit should have bothered to do before misleading all of his readers.
Re: whether I cite other citations such a meta-analyses, well, they can certainly be useful in some forums. If you care to cite them, by all means. However, the later IOM/NAS reports themselves are clearly biased by participants under direction to never conclude any association:
“The IOM committee which McCormick chaired was rife with pharmaceutical interests, as revealed in the meeting notes. Next to the name Richard Johnston – Board of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Liaison who months earlier announced at Simpsonwood that he did not want his grandson exposed to thimerosal – are the words “SmithKline Beecham.” Next to panelist Vernice Anthony are the words “$5000 Merck” and next to fellow panelist Gerald Medoff are the words “pharma company.” Another panelist, Christopher Wilson, is listed next to “American Home Products,” which would later change its name to Wyeth and be purchased by Pfizer. And panelist Ronald Bayer coauthored a book published prior to the 2004 IOM Report, funded in part by a Merck Foundation Fellowship.”
I am content that the science that Offit should have cited, but did not, is sufficient to disprove his null hypothesis of no harm.
You say animal studies can lie, and yes, they can. However, the fundamental nature of the neurological damage seen after aluminum exposure seen in mice is also seen in people with autism. We know much, much more about this than I can get into in a blog article. To expand a more complete representation, I’ve spent months reviewing thousands of research articles, I now have a book coming out of Skyhorse coming in 2016 (“Genetic and Environmental Causes of Autism”), and there is an entire chapter on Neurotoxin-Induced Autoimmune Mediated Neurological Damage in Autism.
You may pity student who come to my blog who “just want to know”. To know what? I would hope that they would want to know the mechanisms of neurotoxicity in substances of vaccines, and not just feel good about risk being low. We know absolutely nothing about the cumulative lifetime risks of morbibity due to cumulative lifetime exposure due to additives in vaccines. I would hope that they would want to to know about the research and work that needs to be done to make vaccines safe. Where offit peddles ignores, I peddle opportunity for progress. Where are the genetic tests for susceptibility to neurological damage from vaccines? Offit’s contributes stagnate science and perpetuate a myth.
Students should also know the full story of the research fraud committed by the CDC on the vaccine/autism link:
Also, RE: the AMA, APA, etc. being “in bed with big Pharma”, those are your words, not mine – I have never even considered that. I do know that when the CDC covered up and buried the results of association of autism w/vaccines, they lied to ALL of us, including the American public, Congress, White House, AMA, APA, NAS/IOM, the FDA and and ACIP.
That’s why we are demanding immediate Congressional hearings
The Catholic Church did not burn anyone at the stake for espousing heliocentric views of reality.
You are of course historically correct. I plead guilty to using the phrase as a figure of speech. Thank you.
Actually, I think you were right about the Catholic Church:
Heretics who refused to confess were burned at the stake
Your second reference has it as I recall:
‘“Suspected heresy” was not as serious a religious crime as “formal heresy,” and so his punishment was not death by being burned at the stake, but rather house arrest and the banning of the Dialogue.’
Not that I was there, mind you.
Also in the third reference, according to UCLA Distinguished Research Professor Henry Kelly:
“If he [Galileo] had ever come out and said he believed in heliocentrism after swearing it off, he would have been liable to receive an automatic death sentence,” Kelly said.
And in the first reference, in the Spanish Inquisition, “Sentencing of confessed heretics was done in a public event called the Auto-da-Fe. All heretics wore a sackcloth with a single eyehole over their heads. Heretics who refused to confess were burned at the stake.”