It's that time of year again.
Christmas carols blaring from the stores tell us that "It's the most wonderful time of the year", but most of the people maxing out their credit cards inside those stores don't look like they're taking the advice to "be of good cheer".
According to a comprehensive review of the depression-inducing effects of added sugars published in Medical Hypotheses, maybe they would feel better if they weren't fuelling their Christmas gift-buying/Boxing Day sale marathon with sugary foods and beverages.
(Come to think of it, they would probably feel a lot better if they chose not to stress themselves to the eyeballs and bury themselves in debt in the first place, but that's an article for another day. Oh and by the way, if you know anyone who would rather receive valuable information on health and well-being than yet another pair of socks or Christmas sweater, you could always…)
The review, titled The depressogenic potential of added dietary sugars, summarises the current state of scientific knowledge on the effects of the ubiquitous sweet stuff on our mood, and the mechanisms by which those effects occur.
First, what is the evidence that added sweeteners sour our mood? There are three types of study designs that can shed light on the sugar-mood connection:
For example, a meta-analysis of ten cross-sectional studies found that those who consumed the most sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soft drinks, sweetened iced tea, juice drinks and energy drinks) had a 30 per cent higher risk of being depressed than those who drank the least.
Prospective cohort studies find a roughly 20 per cent higher risk of becoming depressed in those with the highest consumption of added sugars compared with the lowest, and once again, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is a particular culprit.
And experimental studies show that added sugars do not have any beneficial effect on mood (contrary to the popular belief in the 'sugar rush' effect), and in fact have deleterious effects on components of mood, including alertness and fatigue.
So now we come to the second question: how does the consumption of added sugars affect our mood and depression risk?
The review proposes 6 primary mechanisms: inflammation, gut dysbiosis, dysregulation of dopamine pathways, oxidative stress, insulin resistance and formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These mechanisms interact with each other in complex ways:
I've written many articles about the role that our resident gut bacteria play in health and disease, including mental health (see, for example, Gut bugs and human health: A tale of two evolutionary trajectories, Fat chance of having a healthy gut, Anxiety and the gut microbiome: How your gut bugs can chill you out or stress you out, and Of bugs and brains - how your gut microbiome affects mental health, for starters).
I've also covered the inflammation-depression connection (see Inflammation: why you're fat, sick, tired, depressed and in pain... and what to do about it and Rumination inflammation), and as you can see from the above diagram, inflammation is inextricably linked with oxidative stress, insulin resistance and AGE formation.
So in this article, I'm going to hone in on the effect of sugar consumption on dopamine signalling in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - a chemical messenger that allows nerve cells to talk to each other, and to muscle and gland cells - associated with reward, learning and motivation. In my previous article, Reprogramming your stone age brain for health and happiness, I explained how the dopamine system gets 'hijacked' by supernormal stimuli such as hyperpalatable foods (those rich in calories, fat, refined carbohydrates and/or salt).
Research on sugar in particular indicates that it stimulates the dopamine system, in a dose-dependent fashion; that is, the higher the intake of sugar, the greater the release of dopamine. In the short term, this results in an intense sensation of reward, which prompts us to reach for more sugar... and THAT'S why it's so hard to stop at one slice of cake or one doughnut!
However, continual high intake of sugar causes maladaptive changes in the structure and function of dopamine pathways. Over time, the brain reduces the number of dopamine receptors in an attempt to protect itself against continual overstimulation of dopamine pathways (much like people develop 'tolerance' to addictive drugs, requiring higher and higher doses to get high).
Interestingly, reduced dopamine activity has been observed in the brains of depressed people. This is associated with the decreased ability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), and the enormous difficulty in motivating themselves to take any actions that might improve their lives, that depressed people experience.
Or in science-speak,
"A substantial body of evidence suggests that chronic added sugar ingestion can interfere with intrinsic reward systems in a manner capable of inducing anhedonia and motivational deficits. Both are hallmark symptoms and maintenance factors of depression."
The depressogenic potential of added dietary sugars
Put plainly, over time, eating too much sugar makes you feel like all the joy has been sucked out of life, and causes you to feel like you couldn't be bothered doing anything - what's the point, when nothing you do brings you any enjoyment? And the more unmotivated you become, the less you engage in any activities that could make you feel better about yourself, and life in general. It's quite literally a depressing downward spiral.
Reversing this spiral is not easy. As a person's dopamine system adapts to a constant barrage of excessive sugar, higher and higher degrees of sweetness are required for them to experience any sensation of reward from eating.
If this person suddenly drops all added sugars and attempts to follow a wholefood plant-based diet, he or she will at first experience no enjoyment from the new way of eating, and will be tempted to abandon it without a clear understanding that this is a temporary state, which will correct itself over time.
How long does it take? The very unsatisfactory answer is, it depends. Genetic variations in dopamine receptor activity, the amount of added sugar the person was previously consuming, the length of time they've been overconsuming sugar, and the level of stress in their life will all impact on how quickly their dopamine system recovers its equilibrium to the point where they can once again perceive the natural level of sweetness in whole, natural foods as rewarding.
And there's an additional complication: in the early stages of this recalibration process, added sugar becomes even more reinforcing. That is, if you cut out all added sugars for 1 week and then eat something with an added sweetener, you'll find it even more rewarding than previously, when you were eating sugar all the time.
I see this pattern frequently in my clients: they stick to a healthy diet with no added sugar for a couple of days, weeks or even months, notice how great they're feeling and how much sweeter natural foods such as fruits and starchy vegetables taste to them... then they let down their guard, eat just one slice of cake, piece of chocolate or scoop of ice cream, and find themselves bingeing uncontrollably. Back to square one.
How do you escape this dietary Pleasure Trap?
By: Robyn Chuter
Back in May 2017, I conducted a Deep Dive webinar, ‘Understanding Your Blood Test Results’, for members of my EmpowerEd health and nutrition education program. You can watch the webinar and download the fully-referenced slides by taking up the 1-month free trial of EmpowerEd here.
Before diving into the most common blood tests (full blood count, UEC/LFT, iron studies, thyroid function studies and so on) and what high or low readings on each of these might mean, I discussed an article that was published in the British Medical Journal titled ‘Should we abandon routine blood tests?’
Although the article referred specifically to routine blood tests ordered for hospital patients (secondary care), the concerns raised by the authors are just as relevant to primary care settings, for example, a GP appointment.
I’m frequently asked by new clients, “What blood tests should I have before I come to see you?” My usual response is, “I won’t know which tests might be helpful until I actually speak to you and find out more about what’s wrong with you, as well as what you’ve been tested for in the past.”
This is what the authors of the BMJ article mean when they write,
“Historically, blood tests in secondary care were requested for defined indications and only after a detailed clinical history and examination of the patient.”
Should we abandon routine blood tests?
They contrast this thoughtful approach to test requests in the past, with the current situation:
“Requesting a standard battery of blood tests without due regard to clinical indication has become the norm—with no distinction made between patients with a variety of presenting complaints, from chest pain to fractures.”
Should we abandon routine blood tests?
You might be wondering what possible harm might come from routine blood tests, apart from having to have a needle in your arm, and losing a little blood volume! Isn’t it always better to have more information?
No, argue the doctors who wrote the article.
For starters, blood tests cost money to perform, and although routine blood tests are bulk billed under Medicare in Australia (and covered by the National Health Service in the UK, where the BMJ article’s authors hail from), thus shielding the patient from their true cost, the reality is that it’s taxpayers who foot the bill. Healthcare costs are rising inexorably every year, and money spent on unnecessary tests is money diverted from more worthwhile applications.
I for one would rather see schools able to purchase new computers without having to hold a bake sale, than have hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on running tests that don’t provide any clinically useful information, which would seem to be the case if “up to 60% of abnormal investigations documented in medical notes do not lead to further investigation”.
For seconds, ordering a standard battery of tests undermines clinical judgment. It’s often an excuse for not spending adequate time actually talking to the patient and examining them. As students, health care providers (both doctors and naturopaths) are taught ‘differential diagnosis’ – that is, how to whittle down the long list of possible diagnoses that match a patient’s symptoms, to a short list of likely diagnoses that may require further testing to confirm.
For example, a headache may be caused by anything from dehydration to a brain tumour, but it would be extraordinarily irresponsible to send every patient who had a headache for an MRI scan to check for tumours!
I’ve seen many clients over the years who bring along reams of past test reports, most of them with results in the expected range. In practically all of these cases, the client either has vague symptoms such as fatigue or stomach discomfort, or a slew of symptoms affecting multiple body systems.
And in practically none of them has any practitioner they’ve seen in the past, ever asked them about what they eat, how much sleep they get and what’s going on in their lives. More often than not, improving their diet and lifestyle habits and handling their emotional and psychological difficulties either gets rid of their symptoms altogether, or reduces them to the point where carefully selected tests – rather than a battery of ‘routine tests’ – are likely to produce useful information about the cause of their remaining concerns.
I’ve seen plenty of examples of this in my practice:
It’s important to remember that lots of perfectly healthy people live outside the reference ranges printed on blood test reports. For example, I have several clients whose ferritin levels have been in the ‘iron depleted’ range for over 10 years, yet they’ve never developed anaemia or any symptoms indicating inadequate iron status. Conversely, plenty of unhealthy people live inside reference ranges; everyone knows at least one junk food-munching couch potato whose cholesterol level and blood pressure are ‘perfect’!
The bottom line is, if you have no symptoms of illness, and don’t already have a diagnosed condition such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease which requires regular monitoring, you don’t need ‘routine’ blood tests – with a couple of exceptions, such as monitoring serum vitamin B12 levels if you’re on a plant-based diet and haven’t been consistent with your supplementation. Furthermore, having those tests may do you more harm than good.
If, on the other hand, you have symptoms that don’t respond to intelligently-directed lifestyle changes, or that worsen rapidly, then get to a doctor or hospital and have all the (clinically indicated, rationally chosen) tests you need to find out what’s wrong with you.
By : Rebekah Barnett
This poster was part of the SA Gov Fully Vaxxed campaign of May 2022. The core message was if you have not had a booster, you are not fully vaxxed.
I can't help noticing the timing ... all traces of this poster disappeared not long after Senator Alex Antic asked the Health Minister for the evidence supporting the poster’s implication that boosters will stop/reduce transmission.
Faced with its own count of zero unvaccinated people in hospital with Covid (again), New South Wales Health argues the base rate fallacy.
“With such high vaccination coverage in the community, a high proportion of people admitted to hospital or intensive care unit (IC) with COVID-19 are now vaccinated with two or three doses. However, people who are not vaccinated remain more likely to suffer severe COVID-19.”
They argue it more than once. More than 1 million people in NSW have not have not had a Covid vaccine. They are “significantly overrepresented” in hospital by the number zero, says NSW Health.
NSW Health’s argument in a diagram.
Source doc, NSW Surveillance Report, week ending 03 December 2022, HERE.
I packaged this lie into four pictures in the hope that it might pry open some minds to the possibility that their government is lying to them. Please feel free to share these images with those in your network who can’t quite see it yet.
By: Robyn Chuter
Back in 2016, I ran a webinar for my EmpowerEd membership group on cancer screening. (You can view this, along with many hundreds of hours of other webinars on all things nutrition- and health-related, by taking advantage of the 1-month free trial of EmpowerEd membership.)
During this webinar, I noted that the first randomised controlled trial of screening colonoscopy for the prevention of colorectal cancer would report its findings in the mid-2020s.
Well, those results have been reported, a little earlier than expected, and they validate the scepticism that I expressed about cancer screening in general during the 2016 webinar:
People who were invited to undergo screening colonoscopy were less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but they were not less likely to die from colorectal cancer, nor did they have any lower risk of dying overall.
Now, there are some important nuances to this study, and we’ll get to them. But first, let’s zoom out and ask some higher-order questions about the purpose and value of cancer screening programs in general.
Question 1: What is cancer screening?
Answer: Cancer screening is a systematic attempt to detect cancer before it becomes clinically apparent, in asymptomatic individuals, using laboratory tests, imaging studies or physical examination. Examples include screening mammograms to detect breast cancer, Pap smears to detect cervical cancer, and screening colonoscopy to detect cancer of the bowel and rectum.
Importantly, cancer screening is not the same as a diagnostic test (although the same procedures are used for both screening and diagnosis). People with symptoms – such as a new lump in the breast, or bleeding from the bowel – should see their doctor for appropriate diagnostic testing.
Question 2: What is the intention of cancer screening?
Answer: Screening programs aim to detect cancer at an early stage, on the assumption that it will be more treatable. The intention is to spare the patient from the more aggressive treatments that are used on advanced cancers, and to lower the death rate from that particular cancer.
Question 3: How well does cancer screening work?
Answer: It depends on what you mean by ‘work’!
Cancer screening programs undoubtedly detect more early-stage tumours. However, many, if not most of these small tumours are indolent – that is, they are slow-growing and unlikely to metastasise, or spread to vital organs. Hence, detecting them at an early stage and treating them as cancer won’t save lives, because indolent tumours are highly unlikely to result in death, no matter how long they hang around; in fact, many of them may have spontaneously regressed had they remained undetected.
Meanwhile, screening is very likely to miss truly deadly cancers, which simply grow and spread too fast to be detected by periodic examinations. In fact, the term ‘interval cancers’ was coined to denote aggressive tumours that spring up in the interval between screening tests.
In my previous article, New study on screening mammography shows more harms than benefits, I reproduced the following chart, from an article which examined the impact of a government-funded screening mammography program on the incidence of, and death from, breast cancer in Victoria:
As you’ll notice, the incidence of early stage breast cancers shot up after the federally-funded BreastScreen program was launched in 1991, indicating overdiagnosis (more on that below). However, diagnoses of advanced breast cancer also continued to rise, almost doubling in the two decades after the BreastScreen program began, indicating that it was failing to detect lethal breast cancers at an early stage:
“Crude incidence of advanced stages III/IV breast cancer increased by 96% from 12.2 to 23.9 per 100 000 women from 1986 to 2013, ruling out a direct association of mammographic screening with breast cancer mortality.”
Assessment of Breast Cancer Mortality Trends Associated With Mammographic Screening and Adjuvant Therapy From 1986 to 2013 in the State of Victoria, Australia
H. Gilbert Welch uses the “barnyard pen of cancers” analogy to characterise the highly heterogeneous grab-bag of diagnoses collectively labelled ‘cancer’, into three types of animal, with the fence representing screening:
Question 4: Are there any harms from cancer screening?
A: Yes, several types:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy versus faecal occult blood testing for colorectal cancer screening in asymptomatic individuals
Question 5: Might getting screened for cancer save my life?
A: Given the relentless propaganda campaigns pushing various forms of cancer screening, it may surprise you to learn that cancer screening has never been shown to “save lives”.
Some, but by no means all, randomised controlled trials of cancer screening have found that people who undergo screening are less likely to die from that particular cancer. However, many of the same studies found that overall mortality was higher in the screened group:
According to the authors;
“In five of the 12 trials, differences in the two mortality rates went in opposite directions, suggesting opposite effects of screening. In four of these five trials, disease-specific mortality was lower in the screened group than in the control group, whereas all-cause mortality was the same or higher. In two of the remaining seven trials, the mortality rate differences were in the same direction but their magnitudes were inconsistent; i.e., the difference in all-cause mortality exceeded the disease-specific mortality in the control group. Thus, results of seven of the 12 trials were inconsistent in their direction or magnitude.”
All-Cause Mortality in Randomized Trials of Cancer Screening
The lack of overall mortality benefit is acknowledged even by advocates of screening. For example, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTSF), which recommends that women aged 50-74 have mammograms every 2 years, found that
“None of the trials nor the combined meta-analysis demonstrated a difference in all-cause mortality with screening mammography.”
Screening for Breast Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement
USPTSF also currently (as of 2021) recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 45 years and continuing until age 75 years. But in their 2016 recommendation statement, they admitted that
“To date, no method of screening for colorectal cancer has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in any age group.”
Screening for Colorectal Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement
One of the screening methods that USPSTF endorses for colorectal cancer is, of course, colonoscopy. And that brings us back (at last!!!) to that recently-published randomised controlled trial of screening colonoscopy. Nearly 85 000 people aged 55 to 64 years, from Poland, Norway, and Sweden, participated in the trial. Roughly one third of participants were invited to undergo a single screening colonoscopy (invited group), while the remaining two thirds received no invitation or screening (usual care group).
0.98 per cent of the people in the invited group were diagnosed with colorectal cancer during the follow-up period (median of ten years), compared to 1.20 per cent of the usual-care group. This is a relative risk reduction of 18 per cent, and an absolute risk reduction of 0.22 per cent. However, there was no statistically significant reduction in the risk of death from colorectal cancer (0.28 per cent in the invited group and 0.31 per cent in the usual-care group), or in all-cause mortality (11 per cent in both groups). 455 people needed to be invited to undergo screening to prevent one case of colorectal cancer.
The researchers were at pains to point out that only 42 per cent of the invited group actually had a colonoscopy, and they estimated that the risk of colorectal cancer would have been reduced by 31 per cent, and the risk of dying of colorectal cancer by 50 per cent, if everyone in the invited group had actually been screened.
Another concern raised by Lancet editorialists is that many of the colonoscopies performed for the trial failed to meet quality benchmarks, suggesting that pre-cancerous tumours may have been missed.
But even if everyone in the invited group had showed up for a colonoscopy, and every colonoscopy had been perfectly performed, the effect on overall mortality would be vanishingly small.
Remember, while 11 per cent of usual-care participants died during follow-up, only 0.31 per cent of them died of colorectal cancer. Not only would screening colonoscopy have had no impact on all these other deaths, it may even have contributed to them through the self-licensing effect described above, in which being given a clean bill of health on cancer screening appeared to disincentivise people to maintain good health habits. What is the gain to you if you’re saved from a grisly death from colorectal cancer at the age of 75, only to die of a heart attack instead because your A-OK on the colonoscopy report lulled you into believing that you could get away with smoking, eating garbage, and being overweight and lazy?
And finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that the colorectal cancers that are most likely to kill you are birds: they’ve already flown away before you get the chance to participate in a screening program of any type:
“Not all colon cancer is biologically similar and amenable to mortality reduction through early detection.”
Blood-Based Screening for Colon Cancer: A Disruptive Innovation or Simply a Disruption?
Why do governments continue to promote cancer screening programs?Most cancer screening programs fail to achieve their objectives. On the whole, they don’t “catch cancer early, when it’s easier to treat” because aggressive cancers grow and spread too quickly to be detected through periodic screening; they don’t reliably decrease the risk of dying from that particular type of cancer, and they don’t reduce all-cause mortality
. They’re also incredibly expensive. So why do governments still push them so aggressively? There are several contributing factors, including
I have a whole section in my Article Library on cancer, which I strongly urge you to peruse. But since the topic of this article is colorectal cancer, it’s hard to go past the advice of Dr Denis Burkitt, an Irish surgeon and medical researcher who worked in Uganda for several decades (and after whom Burkitt’s lymphoma is named). Observing the stark differences in the incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, gall bladder disease, hypertension, constipation and colorectal cancer between Africans and his own countrymen, Burkitt concluded that the unrefined, fibre-rich diet eaten in Africa was the key to freedom from these diseases.
Here are some of his most famous sayings:
“Diseases can rarely be eliminated through early diagnosis or good treatment, but prevention can eliminate disease.”
“The only way we are going to reduce disease, is to go backward to the diets and lifestyles of our ancestors.”
“The frying pan you should give to your enemy. Food should not be prepared in fat. Our bodies are adapted to a stone age diet of roots and vegetables.”
and, perhaps my favourite:
“Societies that eat unrefined foods produce large stools and build small hospitals; societies that eat fibre-depleted foods produce small stools and build large hospitals.”
This drawing sums it up perfectly:
By : Robyn Chuter
Last year, I reluctantly made a decision that I could never previously have envisaged: I withdrew my consent to be an organ donor. I had 'ticked the box' to donate my organs when I first obtained a driver's licence, and later became a registered organ donor. It struck me as a simple and obvious choice to make: my organs wouldn't be any good to me if I was dead, and my grieving family could take some comfort in knowing that they might keep at least one other person alive.
But in December 2021, the Queensland government decreed that anyone who wished to receive a kidney, lung or heart transplant must take at least two doses of an experimental COVID-19 injection. Knowing full well that organ transplant recipients had been excluded from the clinical trials of these completely novel products, I was so appalled by the imposition of medical apartheid on critically ill people that I immediately revoked my organ donor consent. I wasn't alone, as it turned out.
Media coverage of Queensland Health's decision was mixed. On 6 December 2021, the Murdoch-owned Brisbane Courier-Mail newspaper presented the plight of three people on the transplant waiting list, who were concerned about the health risks of the injections, in a sympathetic light:
"Dana Ward, 23, from the Gold Coast said she is at loggerheads with her Brisbane specialist over the vaccine decision. Ms Ward had a pancreas and kidney transplant in 2009 but her body has rejected the kidney and she is now on dialysis.
'I have been told that if I received a kidney and then got Covid it would be a waste of an organ. I even have a donor ready to go but it’s been made clear nothing will go ahead until I am fully vaccinated,' Ms Ward, who suffers from primary hyperoxaluria, said.
'Because of my ill health I have always been hyper careful of what I put in my body. I am definitely not anti-vax but am afraid of the Covid vaccine side effects. I am backed into a corner now and probably have to go ahead with the vaccine,' she said.
Helen Oberthur, 44, from Brisbane, has stage four kidney disease and has not had her Covid shots.
'I have had every other vaccine including the flu and it’s not been good. I have ended up so sick I had to get someone to look after my son. I am not good with vaccinations and feel like I am cornered. I think it is blatant discrimination to deny me a place on a waiting list because of this. I just found out about the new policy this week and feel overwhelmed by it all,' she said.
Tamara McCarthy said she was shocked when her son’s specialist told her last week that her 18 year old would have to get his Covid jabs to remain on the transplant list.
'He is very young and had all his vaccinations as a child but he is scared to have the jabs. He has read a lot about the risks of myocarditis. Dialysis is allowing him to still live his life as a young man but what if he has a bad reaction? Of course he wants a new kidney. He wants to live a long life but this decision has been devastating. He will have to take his chances with the vaccine,' the Ipswich mother said.
'Don’t doctors take an oath to treat people in all circumstances. He is not some raving anti-vaxxer, just a scared boy,' she said."
Transplant patients in a spin over demand they are double vaxxed
In contrast, fellow Murdoch outlet, news.com.au, gleefully reported on 8 December 2021 that "organ donors opposed to taking the Covid-19 vaccine kicked up a storm on Twitter, but it didn’t take long for the protest to fall flat" thanks to "pro-vax users, who began signing up as organ donors en masse."
In a truly vomit-worthy display of journalistic ethical bypass, the 500 word article devoted precisely one sentence to "the ethical issue of denying unvaccinated patients lifesaving surgery", and one to the concerns of the patients on the transplant waiting list whom the Courier-Mail had interviewed. Despite the Courier-Mail article citing three patient names, along with photographs of two of them, the news.com.au piece falsely described them as "anonymous" - a tactic transparently intended to undermine their credibility. And rather than relaying the specific and eminently reasonable concerns that these individuals had shared, the news.com.au article cited just one sentence from the article, dismissively bracketed in scare quotes:
"According to the Courier Mail, a number of anonymous unvaccinated patients say they have not got the Covid-19 jab 'as they fear they will be hit with side effects that will make them even more ill as they endure dialysis and other harsh treatments'."
#NotAnOrganDonorAnymore hashtag sparks surge in new organ donors after Queensland Health announcement
Instead, news.com.au's anonymous reporter/s devoted more than half of zey/zem's article space to screen grabs of the Twitter stoush between "pro-vaxer" and "anti-vaxer" potential organ donors. Will someone please nominate this fine piece of journalism for a Walkley?
As the Epoch Times reported on 23 November 2022,
"A year on, unvaccinated patients will still be unable to access transplant surgeries for kidneys, lungs, or hearts in the state of Queensland."
Organ Transplants Still Denied to Unvaccinated Patients in Queensland, Australia
In each of these articles, a Queensland Health spokesperson was quoted as claiming that the ban on unjabbed transplant recipients was for the "safety and wellbeing" of patients. Transplant patients must take powerful immunosuppressive drugs which put them at higher risk of infection, and their immune response to vaccines - including COVID-19 injections - is known to be "weaker than that of the general public" and to be more likely to decline rapidly and steeply. Therefore, argues the spokesperson, "it’s incredibly important for the person to be vaccinated prior to transplant."
Get the appThe merit of this argument rests, of course, on the efficacy of COVID-19 injections in preventing infection and serious illness from SARS-CoV-2. If the injections don't stop infection, don't keep infected people out of hospital and don't stop them from dying, then there's absolutely no justification for forcing gravely ill people to get them, in order to receive a life-saving transplant.
Queensland Health is astonishingly non-transparent with its data, providing no information on the injection status of patients hospitalised, in an intensive care unit (ICU), or dying of/with COVID-19.
Neighbouring New South Wales, a state in which "over 95 per cent of people aged 16 and over... have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 70 per cent of people eligible for their third dose have received it" is more forthcoming, providing data on the numbers of people hospitalised, in an ICU, and dying of/with COVID-19, by injection status.
In the latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report, for the week ending 26 November 2022, we are told that "people who are not vaccinated remain more likely to suffer severe COVID-19". Yet the data presented suggest the opposite conclusion:
"Note that some people with COVID-19 who are admitted to hospital or ICU are admitted for conditions unrelated to their COVID-19 infection, and these admissions will not be prevented by vaccination."
NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report - week ending 26 November 2022
But even after making allowance for this, the NSW data are hardly a ringing endorsement for the efficacy of the experimental shots, either for the general public or for seriously ill people on an organ transplant waiting list. If they don't keep those who need them the most out of hospital, and nobody else really needs them anyway because they're not at risk of getting anything worse than a nasty flu-like illness, then what's the point of coercing anyone to get them?
However, there's even more bad news for people who are waiting for organ transplants. Once they have received their life-saving donor organ, they will be pressured to comply with the injection schedule endorsed by the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ):
"TSANZ recommends that all transplant patients > 18 years of age be advised to undergo a primary course of 3 COVID vaccinations with a booster 4 months after the third vaccination, as per ATAGI and the NZ Ministry of Health."
Updated TSANZ COVID-19 Vaccination recommendations for Transplant Recipients
Not only will this intensive schedule put their weakened bodies at higher risk of the whole disastrous catalogue of adverse effects of the experimental injections, but there is growing evidence that the injections may trigger their immune systems to reject the transplanted organ.
In April 2022, doctors from Montefiore Hospital in New York published the first case series of COVID-19 injection-induced rejection in lung transplant recipients. Three female patients aged 50-70, between six months and two years post-transplant, and with no previous rejection episodes, suffered antibody mediated rejection of their transplanted lungs.
"Two were hospitalized with hypoxic respiratory failure within 2 weeks of their 2nd vaccine dose. The 3rd was seen at clinic for milder similar symptoms, later progressing and requiring supplemental oxygen (O2) and hospitalization... Two recovered their lung function and are off supplemental O2, the 3rd did not and is re-listed for transplant."
COVID-19 Vaccine Triggered Rejection in Lung Transplant Recipients: A Case Series
Japanese researchers published a systematic review of case reports of acute corneal graft rejection after receiving a COVID-19 injection in August 2022. Corneal graft transplantation (keratoplasty) is the most frequently performed organ transplant procedure worldwide and, owing to the immune privileged status of the cornea, has a high success rate with no need for systemic immunosuppression under normal circumstances.
However, the Japanese team documented 23 acute corneal graft rejections in 21 patients after COVID-19 injection published between April and December 2021. The time interval between injection and rejection ranged from one day to six weeks, and the interval between corneal transplantation and rejection ranged from 14 days to 25 years.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of reports of solid organ rejection after either a COVID-19 injection or infection was published by a Saudi Arabian team, also in August 2022. They identified 56 solid organs rejected after a COVID-19 injection and 40 after SARS-CoV-2 infection, including all of the corneal graft rejections identified by the Japanese researchers but omitting the lung transplant rejections identified by the Montefiore team.
The median time to organ rejection after COVID-19 injection was 13.5 hours, while the median time from SARS-CoV-2 infection to organ rejection was 14 hours. This, along with the fact that most cases were successfully treated, prompted the Saudi authors to conclude that
"The reported evidence of solid organ rejections post-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination or COIVD-19 [sic] infection should not discourage vaccination against this worldwide pandemic. The number of reported cases is relatively small in relation to the hundreds of millions of vaccinations that have occurred, and the protective benefits offered by SARS-CoV-2 vaccination far outweigh the risks."
Solid Organ Rejection following SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination or COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Yet, as I have already shown above (and as Philip Altman has amply documented in his impeccably referenced 107 page report, The Time of COVID), there are no protective benefits of COVID-19 injections. These novel, experimental products don't prevent infection, don't prevent transmission, don't keep people out of hospital, and don't stop them from dying.
They do expose people to a completely unacceptable risk of already-observed harms, including myocarditis, acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), cardiac arrest, circulatory collapse, severe hypertension, supraventricular and sinus tachycardia, heart palpitations, menstrual disorders, adverse pregnancy outcomes, shingles, tinnitus, Bell's palsy, blood clotting disorders and lymphoma. And of course, there is an unknown number of harms that will only emerge in months and years to come, as the full consequences of the deployment of novel technologies with no long-term safety data, onto billions of people - most of whom were at negligible risk of serious illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection - become evident.
On a final note, the truly ethical approach to protecting the health of gravely ill people while they wait for a suitable donor organ, and after they've received one, would be to prescribe a safe, effective and inexpensive prophylaxis regime comprising nutraceuticals, off-patent pharmaceuticals and lifestyle changes:
Random effects meta-analysis of prophylaxis studies (pooled effects). Treatments with ≤3 studies with distinct authors or with <50 control events are shown in grey. Pooled results across all outcomes are affected by the distribution of outcomes tested, please see detail pages for specific outcome analysis. Protocols typically combine multiple treatments which may be complementary and synergistic, and the SOC in studies often includes other treatments.
But that's just not going to happen, is it?
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