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Commonly Used Chemotherapy Medications Are Made From Periwinkle





Many modern drugs are derived from purified and concentrated plant compounds (although compared to 20 years ago, few drug companies expend time and money looking at medicinal plant chemistry these days). Rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), for example, a perennial plant native to Madagascar, is the basis for a number of commonly used cancer drugs that have been in use since the 1960s.1

Of the 70 different alkaloids found in periwinkle, the two primary compounds used in anticancer drugs are the powerful vinca alkaloids2 vinblastine and vincristine.3Alkaloids are nitrogen-containing compounds shown to be very important for human health. Within the family of alkaloids, there are those with antiparasitic, antidiabetic, anticancer, antihypertensive and/or antiasthma properties, just to name a few. Others benefit your mood.

Even the humble daffodil contains a valuable alkaloid with anticancer properties called haemanthamine. This alkaloid inhibits the protein production cancer cells depend on to grow and flourish. Berberine is yet another powerful alkaloid found in plants such as goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape root and barberry. These plants have traditionally been used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal infections, liver problems and a number of other health conditions.

Berberine is particularly beneficial for mitochondrial function and is a powerful activator of AMPK, a metabolic master switch. Interestingly, glyphosate — the most widely used herbicide in the world — robs the plant of the ability to make these important medicinal compounds.

Vinca Alkaloids Are Powerful Cancer Fighters

Aside from vinblastine and vincristine, two others known for their cancer-fighting powers are vinorelbine and vindesine.4 All but vindesine have been approved for use in the U.S., and vincristine and vinblastine are included in the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.5

A synthetic vinca alkaloid called vinflunine, developed in 2008, has since been approved in Europe for the treatment of certain types of bladder cancer. It’s also being investigated for the use against other malignancies. Other medicinal applications include the treatment of diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). Their cytotoxic effects have gained the greatest attention, however. As explained in a 2013 paper in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine:6

“The main mechanisms of vinca alkaloid cytotoxicity is due to their interactions with tubulin and disruption of microtubule function … directly causing metaphase arrest … [T]he vinca alkaloids and other antimicrotubule agents also have an effect on both nonmalignant and malignant cells in the non-mitotic cell cycle, because microtubules are involved in many non-mitotic functions …

The vinca alkaloids and other microtubule disrupting agents have power to inhibit malignant angiogenesis in vitro. For example, [vinblastine] with concentrations range from 0.1 to 1.0 pmol/L blocked endothelial proliferation, chemotaxis and spreading on fibronectin, all essential steps in angiogenesis, but other normal fibroblasts and lymphoid tumors were unaffected at these minute concentrations.

In combination with antibodies against vascular endothelial growth factor, low doses of [vinblastine] increased antitumor response considerably, even in tumors resistant to direct cytotoxic effects of the drug. Vinca alkaloids inhibit cell proliferation by binding to microtubules, which can cause a mitotic block and apoptosis …

Side effects of [vinblastine] consist of toxicity to white blood cells, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dyspnea, chest or tumor pain, wheezing and fever. It is also rarely associated with antidiuretic hormone secretion.”

Historical Overview

Vinca alkaloids are the second most-used class of cancer drugs today. They’ve also been used the longest. Vinca alkaloids were originally discovered by two Canadian scientists, Robert Noble and Charles Beer, in the 1950s.7

During that time, Gordon Svoboda, a medical researcher at Eli Lilly, also added periwinkle to his list of research subjects, having heard reports of its use for diabetes during World War II. In 1958, Gordon discovered extract from the plant also performed remarkably well in anticancer tests.

That same year, Noble and Beer presented their own anticancer findings at a research symposium at the New York Academy of Sciences. Notably, the two teams (Eli Lilly and Noble/Beer) concluded that since periwinkle extract lowered white blood cell counts, it might be useful against leukemia — a disease characterized by white blood cell proliferation.

Beer was responsible for isolating vinblastine, which he named. Eventually, Eli Lilly and Noble/Beer established a joint research collaboration, which led to the development of two chemotherapy drugs. Vincristine gained approval as a chemotherapeutic agent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1961. Vinblastine gained FDA approval in 1963. Many other countries around the world approved the two drugs shortly thereafter.

Vinca Alkaloids in Conventional Cancer Treatment

Vinblastine is an integral part of anticancer regimens against testicular cancer, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas, breast cancer and germ cell tumors. Vinorelbine has been shown to have “significant antitumor activity” in those with breast cancer, and is also used in bone cancer treatments, and is approved for the initial treatment of advanced lung cancer in the U.S.

Vincristine, meanwhile, is approved for the treatment of acute leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor, Hodgkin’s disease and other lymphomas, as well as several nonmalignant blood disorders, including refractory autoimmune thrombocytopenia, hemolytic uremic syndrome and thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura.

Common side effects for vincristine include peripheral neuropathy, suppressed activity of bone marrow, constipation, nervous system toxicity, nausea and vomiting.

As you can see, toxicity is an issue. While the toxicological profile of each alkaloid is different, all vinca alkaloids have peripheral neurotoxicity — vincristine being the most potent. As noted in the featured paper on vinca alkaloids, this neurotoxicity is “related to axonal degeneration and decreasing of axonal transport, most likely caused by a drug-induced perturbation of microtubule function.”

The only ways to counteract these toxic effects are to either lower the dose, decrease the frequency of drug administration, or to discontinue use altogether. “Although a number of antidotes, including thiamine, vitamin B12, folinic acid, pyridoxine and neuroactive agents, have been applied, these treatments have not been obviously shown to be effective,” the authors note.

All vinca alkaloids, but vincristine8 and vinblastine in particular, also have notable toxicity on the gastrointestinal tract, as noted in a recent study.9 All of them can also cause severe tissue damage, and are associated with acute heart problems, as well as lung and blood toxicity. The featured paper also specifies that vaccinations should not be administered while on a vinca alkaloid drug, as they weaken your immune system.

Your Lifestyle Choices Can Offer Potent Cancer Prevention

While anticancer drugs have their place, it’s important to remember that the lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis will influence your overall cancer risk in the first place. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to lower your risk. In fact, I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer and chronic disease, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by addressing foundational lifestyle factors.

The following — starting with diet-related pointers, followed by other lifestyle recommendations — is by no means an exhaustive list.

There are many other strategies that can be useful as well, and several really great books have been written just on the topic of natural cancer prevention, including “Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner’s Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer” by Dr. Christine Horner, “The Cancer Revolution: A Groundbreaking Program to Reverse and Prevent Cancer” by Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy and “The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!” by Annie Brandt.

Another excellent book for those who want to understand more about the role of diet and the metabolic underpinnings of cancer is “Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure” by Travis Christofferson.

Eat real food, ideally organic or biodynamic; avoid processed foods and sugars, especially processed fructose — All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Processed fructose, however, is one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.

Reduce nonfiber carbs but have large volumes of fresh organic veggies along with high amounts of healthy fats from avocados, raw butter, seeds, nuts and raw cacao nibs. Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods such as broccoli and fermented foods, and drinking a pint to a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily.

See my juicing instructions for more detailed information. Eating certified organic or biodynamic foods will help you avoid genetically engineered foods and ingredients, which are typically loaded with glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen that also has antibiotic activity and has been shown to harm health in a number of different ways.

Implement a cyclical ketogenic diet — In my book, “Fat for Fuel,” I describe a metabolic mitochondrial therapy program that I believe is a core foundation for a healthy life. Most people simply eat far too many processed foods, net carbs and too few healthy fats, and too many unhealthy fats, which results in gaining and retaining extra body fat and becoming increasingly insulin resistant.

Most also eat too much protein for optimal health and, while exercise cannot compensate for the damage done by a high-carb, low-fat diet, most do not get enough physical movement either. These factors set in motion metabolic and biological cascades that deteriorate your health and “predispose” you to cancer and other chronic diseases.

You can read more about the scientific backbone supporting nutritional ketosis for cancer prevention (and treatment) in “Promoting Advances in Managing Cancer as a Metabolic Disease.” Oncologists in Turkey are also using a stacked ketogenic treatment protocol that has been proven effective even in many stage 4 cancer patients.

By using metabolic support strategies such as ketogenic diet and fasting, a minimal dose of chemotherapy can be used, thereby eliminating many side effects and risks of treatment, while actually improving outcomes. To learn more, see “Metabolically Supported Therapies for the Improvement of Cancer Treatment.”

Limit protein — Newer research has emphasized the importance of the mTOR pathway. When activated, cancer growth is accelerated. To quiet this pathway, I believe it may be wise to limit your protein to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or roughly one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. Replace excess protein with high quality fats such as eggs from organic free-range hens, high quality meats, avocados and coconut oil.

Avoid unfermented soy productsUnfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.

Optimize your omega-3 level — Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer,10 so make sure you get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats. I recommend getting an omega-3 index test done annually. For optimal health and disease prevention, your index should be above 8 percent.

Use curcumin — This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.11 Curcumin is generally poorly absorbed; I’ve provided several absorption tips here.

Avoid drinking alcohol — At minimum, limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.

Avoid charring your meats and steer clear of all processed meats — Charcoal or flame broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide — a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted or fried — has been found to increase cancer risk as well. I recommend eating at least one-third of your food raw. Avoid frying or charbroiling; boil, poach or steam your foods instead.

Processed meats of all kinds also contain acrylamide, along with nitrites that may form harmful N-nitroso compounds in your body. The evidence against processed meat is so strong, it was, as a group, classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015.

Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime — Compelling evidence suggests that fueling the mitochondria in your cells at a time when they don’t need it leads to the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) that damage mitochondrial and eventually nuclear DNA. There is also evidence to indicate that cancer cells uniformly have damaged mitochondria, so the last thing you want to do is eat before you go to bed.

Water fasting — Multiday water fasting, even when you do not have a weight or insulin problem, provides powerful metabolic benefits that help lower your disease risk. Importantly, fasting radically improves your body’s ability to digest damaged cells (autophagy) and increases stem cells.

Optimize your gut microbiomeOptimizing your gut flora will reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune response, both of which are important for cancer prevention. Researchers have found a microbe-dependent mechanism through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth.

So, inhibiting inflammatory cytokines may also slow cancer progression and improve the response to chemotherapy. Adding naturally fermented food to your daily diet is an easy way to prevent cancer or speed recovery. You can always add a high quality probiotic supplement as well, but naturally fermented foods are best.

Make sure you’re not iodine deficient — There’s compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,12 author of “Iodine: Why You Need it, Why You Can’t Live Without it,” is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.

For more information, I recommend reading his book. One caveat: While I believe the bulk of what he states is spot on, I’m not convinced his dosage recommendations are ideal. I believe they may in fact be five or six times higher than optimal. So, do your homework before starting iodine loading.

Improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity — The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and restricting carbs primarily to fiber-rich vegetables. Exercise will also help normalize your insulin and leptin sensitivity.

Maintain a healthy body weight — This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It’s important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.

Optimize your vitamin D level — Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). For general health and disease prevention, you should ideally maintain a vitamin D level of 60 to 80 ng/ml year-round. Vitamin D also works synergistically with every cancer treatment I’m aware of, with no adverse effects.

Get plenty of restorative sleep — Make sure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer’s virility.

The link between lack of sleep and cancer is so strong that the World Health Organization, since 2007, has tagged shift work as a “probable human carcinogen” because it causes circadian disruption.13 As a general rule, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

Exercise regularly — Researchers and cancer organizations increasingly recommend making regular exercise a priority in order to reduce your risk of cancer, and help improve cancer outcomes. One of the primary reasons exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.

Research has also found evidence suggesting exercise can help trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Studies have also found that the number of tumors decrease along with body fat, which may be an additional factor.

This is because exercise helps lower your estrogen levels, which explains why exercise appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer.

Finally, exercise increases mitochondrial biogenesis, which is essential to fight cancer. Ideally, your exercise program should include balance, strength, flexibility, high intensity interval training (HIIT). For help getting started, refer to my Peak Fitness Program.

Limit electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure — In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified cellphones as a Group 2B “possible carcinogen,”14 and the evidence supporting the theory that EMF radiation from wireless technologies can trigger abnormal cell growth and cancer15,16 just keeps growing and getting stronger.

Among the latest evidence are two government-funded animal studies17 that linked cellphone radiation to brain and heart tumors, as well as DNA and cellular damage. These findings are further supported by a lifetime exposure study18 by the highly respected Ramazzini Institute in Italy, which also found a clear link between cellphone radiation and these types of tumors.19,20,21

A core problem is the fact that EMF triggers potent oxidant stress, which is at the heart of not only cancer but most chronic diseases. To learn more, including how to lower your EMF exposure, not only from cellphones and wireless technologies but also from standard household wiring, see “Cellphones Strongly Linked to Cancer — New Study Reproduces Government Findings.”

Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens — These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.

Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, especially if you have risk factors for breast cancer — Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study22 published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy.

Similar risks also exist for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which also comprise synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.

If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.

Implement stress-reduction strategies — Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is driven by emotional factors. It is likely that stress and unresolved emotional issues may be more important than the physical ones, so make sure this is addressed.

My favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Other helpful strategies include meditation, mindfulness practice, prayer and yoga, just to name a few.


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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes





(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it





Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes





In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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