Medical journal Lancet fully retracts 1998 study linking MMR vaccine to autism

On the opposite side of the debate, is a September 2008 post from the lbrb autism news science and opinion blog which references author Arthur Allen’s recounting of a tragic story in which the failure to immunize resulted in permanent lung damage for a new born who contracted whooping cough during the last trimester of her mother’s pregnancy.

The concern according to the autism blog that led to the mother’s decision not to be immunized was based on the fears associated with the mercury-laden preservative thimerosal in vaccines, which some theorized might be linked to autism.

from the PI Window on Business Blog titled “Is There a Vaccine for Social Media?” (October 27th, 2009)

When I first wrote the article from which the above excerpt was taken, it was an important part of my research into the expressed concerns by many that the H1N1 vaccine was at best a placebo and at worst a serious health threat to those who were vaccinated against the swine flu strain.

By the way, and with the exception of yours truly, my entire family – including my pregnant wife (although we did not know it at the time) was in fact vaccinated with no real side effects other than a mild temperature with my 2 year old son.  While I was in bed with the regular flu bug for three days between Christmas and New Years, I am both happy and thankful to say that the H1N1 virus did not appear in the Hansen household.

For me personally, I really think that this is one of those times worth noting that there are no winners or losers or right versus wrong opinions relative to the H1N1 vaccine debate, only the sustaining gratitude that one’s family is healthy.

Since the publication of this post, I have of course become far more involved in the world of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry in general starting with my coverage of the story that the largest expenditure within the the Medicaid program is for powerful anti psychotic drugs that are commonly prescribed to children between the ages of 3 and 17.  I still shake my head at this one because having young children myself, I must admit that it is my personal belief that the situation is linked more to a combination of detached parenting skills and physician expediency versus any legitimate treatment requirement.

I also had the opportunity to interview the President of the National Health Products Protection Association regarding a controversial bill that could potentially euthanize the industry in Canada.

Suffice to say, health care continues to be an evolving story of paradoxical views and conflicting interests that at times can and in fact does obfuscate the clear and discernible facts that are necessary to make sound decisions regarding your family’s well-being.

While the objective is clear in terms of wanting to make informed and effective decisions regarding health care, retractions such as the one by the medical journal Lancet regarding their 1998 findings which linked autism to vaccinations makes it a difficult task.

Especially against the backdrop of vociferous protestation by “interested” factions such as the Natural News whose electronic publication blasts headlines such as “The Great Swine Flu Hoax of 2009 crumbles into history (along with the vaccines),‏” and “Thousands of vaccinated Americans still died from H1N1 anyway…‏” as if the people’s succumbing to the illness somehow validates their position.

I am not suggesting that there are not elements of validity in theses statements, the concern I have is in the militancy of the tone that is more suggestive of a McCarthy-era shrill than an unbiased attempt to review the facts.  It also doesn’t help to establish an image of neutrality when you sell all forms of natural health products and adjunct paraphernalia such as blenders and exercise equipment.

Like most people whose parents grew up during the “government is here to help you” era in which the blind trust regarding the intentions of our leaders was a given, everything from the Thalidomide scandal to Watergate and the recent collapse of major financial institutions have served to underline the importance of both a healthy skepticism and unwavering vigilance.  In short, this is a gate that should swing both ways along the lines of there being three-sides to every story, yours, mine and somewhere in the middle, the truth.

As the H1N1 death rate referenced in the Natural News should not be viewed as a vindication of its position, the Lancet retraction should not be “celebrated” as a victory for conventional medicine.  Like the passing of the thousand of Americans because of the swine flu, the tragedy recounted in the Arthur Allen story clearly indicates that there are no real winners, and that those of differing positions must pull together to find the answers from a balanced perspective.

In a perfect world this would be the ideal framework for addressing these as well as the other challenges we face in what is now the global community.

However, it is a reality of human nature to cling tightly to those beliefs in which we have made a significant emotional and even financial investment.  Similar to the scientist who first forms a theory and then does everything to prove its veracity, once we have committed ourselves to a certain preordained outcome or conclusion, alternative solutions are viewed through a resistant if not outright hostile lens.

The real question of course beyond the truth is how do we move forward in terms of our view of vaccination?  How do we quantify (or perhaps qualify would be a better word), the information we receive as to both its underlying intent and reliability?

After all, reversals such as these are not new.  I can recall my father, after suffering his first heart attack at the age of 52 in the late sixties, being directed by his doctor to switch from caffeinated coffee and butter to the decaffeinated Sanka brand and margarine.  It turns out that both alternatives were considerably more harmful to his condition due to the chemicals used at that time to produce the decaffeinated product, as well as the hydrogenated ingredient within margarine.

So what are the solutions?  Where can the majority of the population caught between the irresistible force and immovable object interests of partisan views look for meaningful answers besides their local house of worship?

Quire frankly it starts with each one of us taking a more active role in understanding the forces of everyday life that both directly and indirectly affect us (let’s face it, most of us do not involve ourselves in an issue such as health, unless it touches our lives in a real sense.)

As five time bestselling author Larry Winget (whose new book “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault” places responsibility for the way children behave squarely on the shoulders of the parents), would undoubtedly say – stop pointing the finger at someone else and take ownership (and responsibility) for your own life.

I can think of very few subjects that are as important as the health of our collective family that would warrant greater attention.

An Added Note (and Suggestion)

Taking the risk of sounding like an individual whose own agenda has shaped the content of the previous paragraphs, it is for the reasons cited above that I believe the So Act social network has the potential to change the world.  It is also the reason why I chose to write my latest book “What Are You Waiting For? So Act Already? (The Unsociable Business Of Social Networks And Why The So Act Social Network Will Change The World).”

Without giving away too much from the book – yes I really do want you to buy it and read it – So Act’s founding principles are based on the pursuit of a balanced perspective that engages, informs, mobilizes and empowers people to come up with collaborative answers to complex questions.

In addition to the book, visit the So Act Site and get involved.

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