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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Concerns About Flu Shots


Flu season isn't over yet and the flu shot is still being promoted even though it's only 56 percent effective against flu viruses (9 percent effective in adults 65 years and older) and not at all effective against cold viruses. Getting the vaccine doesn't mean that you won't get sick.

According to a review of 50 flu shot studies done by the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent and not-for-profit research organization internationally recognized for its evidence-based standards, 100 flu shots would have to be given to avoid a single case of the flu. The review also reported adverse effects including a rare but serious disorder called Guillian-Barré syndrome which occurs when the body's immune system attacks the nerves and paralyzes the body.

Cochrane researchers found "no evidence" that flu shots reduce the transmission of flu viruses from person to person or prevent complications like pneumonia. They also concluded find that studies funded by flu shot manufacturers were much more likely to report positive results than publicly funded studies and, despite "evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions," the positive studies were more widely published than the negative ones.

In addition to the poor track record, growing concern that the over-use of flu shots is contributing to the increasing resistance of viruses, and worry over the effects of immunizations in general (including reports that vaccinated children are five times more likely to develop disease than unvaccinated children), other serious concerns exist.

Flu shots have a high rate of side effects, they contain antibiotics, and most of them (about 80%) contain a mercury-based preservative called thimersol. According to the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from Eli Lilly and Company and Science Lab, thimersol may be toxic to the kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, bone marrow, central nervous system, digestive system, and reproductive system, causing miscarriage and birth defects including "mild to severe mental retardation and mild to severe motor coordination impairment." The MSDS also warn that thimersol causes allergic reactions, "alters genetic material," and "may cause cancer."

A new thimersol-free flu vaccine called Flublok, recently approved by the FDA, is made from genetically engineered or "recombinant" ingredients. It's mercury-free but genetically modified. This probably isn't better, given the lack of long-term testing and the concerns that have cropped up over adding genetically modified foods to our diet.

An estimated 70% of processed foods already contain GM ingredients and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine reports that "several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system."

The take-home message on flu shots is this:

We're all exposed to flu viruses but we don't all get sick. The biggest differences between those who do and those who don't isn't whether or not they've had the flu shot, it's their overall health and the strength of their immune systems.

The best way to prevent the flu is to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress effectively, and address any underlying health problems. In addition, supplements can ensure that your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs to maintain a strong immune system. Ask your naturopathic doctor for individualized recommendations.

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