Two common claims by the anti-vaccine, pro-disease (AVPD) crowd are (1) that AVPD folk are better-educated than those of us who support public health; and (2) all, or nearly-all, ill health stems from prior vaccination. Here's a sample conversation (link goes to Facebook) showing just those points.
(click on all images to see full-size)
I guess it's just better diagnosis. We've always had such problems among our youth. They just died before anyone noticed.
"The rate of chronic disease among children has doubled in the past two decades: More than half of children ages 8 to 14 have had a long-term health problem at some point, such as obesity, asthma, a learning disability or other ailment, a study shows. Researchers studied 5,001 children from 1988 to 2006 and followed each child for six years, according to a paper in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.Though the percentage of children with a current chronic disease rose to 25% in 2000-2006, the percentage of kids who had ever had a chronic illness grew to 52% in the same time.
Much of the increase in chronic diseases was a result of obesity, says author Jeanne Van Cleave of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston."
Here are a selection of comments, including my own:
It's so obvious what's driving this epidemic of sick kids we have in our society. It's frustrating that way too many people are so inclined to just completely reject the idea that vaccines are hurting our kids. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!
Commenter #1: I was remembering my grade school and high school years back in the 60s and 70s. No allergies, autism or chronic, life-altering ailments. No one died or injured except in auto accidents. No one had cancer either. And we didnt have childhood cancer centers like we do now. WE DID NOT NEED THEM. This is how dangerous the conventional medical society is to us. That this can change where so many children are sick or die, and they turn a completely blind eye to it all, accept it and try to convince us to accept it boggles my mind.
Commenter #2 I am about your age, (Commenter #1), and have this thought almost every time that I come into contact with children born after about 1987 -- all have something wrong medically with them (or so it seems). From the history of medicine, on learns that the pediatric population always has been, and always will be, preyed upon by practitioners of medicine and targeted by drug companies. These practices survive because both count on the parents of young children to be dumber than dog dirt and/or gullible enough to believe anything they are told by "scientists." The extremely ill effects on the health of kids today spring primarily from the degree of damage for which increased knowledge of the human organism has allowed.
I live near to St. Jude's, and every time I hear of some major "advance" toward treating ALL, I wonder why no one really had to worry about ALL prior to the founding of St. Jude's in 1962. So, I checked some of the earliest published articles from St. Jude's research scientists. Many find the rise in childhood cancer in the U.S. as beginning around 1939 or so. Many attribute it to the licensing of the diphtheria vaccination c. 1929 or 1930. Who knew, right?
Oh, my, articles from circa 1962 on childhood cancer are reliable sources compared to current accounts? Who knew?
Commenter #3 The early polio vaccine, which was contaminated with the SV40 virus, is responsible for most of the cancers today. Check out this lecture. It's 2 hours long, but well worth your time. Tons of great info, and lots of proof to back it up. (The title says Autoimmune, but he covers vaccines in detaill too) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8FCJ_VPyns
(Yes, Some of the polio vaccine administered from 1955-1963 was unknowingly contaminated with a virus, called simian virus 40 (SV40). No vaccines licensed for use in the US currently are contaminated with SV 40. It isn't clear if SV40 has actually caused any cancer. I am wondering how a possible exposure 50 years ago "is responsible for most of the cancers today" -- especially pediatric cancers. Second, the YouTube video referenced is a talk by a chiropractor and naturopath, R. E. Trent, whose PhD is in "clinical nutrition", and his website is devoted to selling an array of supplements. In other words, someone with exactly zero training in immunology or oncology. Not a reliable source.)
Some commenters, including myself, tried to refute Commenters #1 and #2
Commenter #4 You didn't get about much in your childhood, did you, Commenter #1? In those days autistic children were put away in institutions. Children frequently died from complications of asthma, diabetes and cancer, because we had limited ways of treating those diseases. We have cancer centres because we now have ways of treating children, and we have cancer specialists, and we recognise that children with cancer need and deserve a specialist facility. Deaths from car accidents are lower because of research into road safety.
Liz Ditz: Commenter #1, can you tell me why Robin Bush, George and Barbara Bush's daughter, never started kindergarten?
Amy Cunningham: Good-Bye to Robin: Interview with Barbara Bush chatteringmind.com Amy Cunningham is a freelance writer and editor specializing in work that endorses healthy living and happiness.
Liz Ditz: Can anybody tell me what changed in 1974 for children with disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities? I'll give you a hint
Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act) also known as, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Commenter #1: Commenter #4, if all these children were sent away, why did we not hear of even one? There were about 200 children in each grade in my school so in high school, there was interaction with about 800 other kids. We were a fairly closeknit society in a big city. Some of us knew each other from 1st grade. And, yes, there may have been some that I did not know about or that I dont remember, but to not know of any of these things (cancer, autism, allergies, etc) and to have NO unexplained deaths during our growing years says a lot. And Liz Ditz, one celebrity example really doesnt say much. I am not saying none of these things happened, but on a percentage basis between now and then, it was very low then.
Commenter #1: Also, looking back at my yearbooks, there was also only one or two overweight children. We thought they were real fat. Looking at them now, one would only consider them chubby. We were less vaccinated and healthier.
To summarize Commenter #1's argument: I don't remember anyone being seriously impaired by vaccine-preventable illnesses, so it didn't happen. I don't remember any of my classmates having severe allergies, or autism, or so on, therefore those conditions were much rarer then. Also, childhood obesity is all about vaccines, not about changes such as the 22% increase in consumption of sugar and other sweeteners in the American diet since 1979, or this change in relative prices:
Another Facebook group discussed the weaknesses in commenter #1's argument, and here are a few key points. (I have not included some comments, and have edited some comments for language I don't use on this blog)
Commenter A: I have a friend who is so allergic to peanuts that she had to 'hold my breath and work fast' to make peanut butter sandwiches for her children for their school lunches. She's a bit older than I am. My older brother had to get regular allergy shots in his early teens, and still has some trouble with both allergies and asthma, although not enough to slow him down much. Our neighbor's daughter died of cancer at about 19. She was several years older than I am.
On the other hand, I have nieces and nephews, and great-niece and -nephews and they're all healthy, active, and smart, with no real health issues. I think this person is just completely blinded by her ideology.
Commenter B: I'm 45. I remember, very well, a young girl at my primary school (elementary) having Leukemia. She died, unfortunately, but it says that childhood cancer was there. It was certainly around. Just because it wasn't bleated about publicly, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Allergies were everywhere, too. My older sister is allergic to the sun, to egg, and to too much chicken.
Commenter C: Well, there used to be a stigma on talking about illness publicly, and especially cancer. It wasn't unheard of in earlier decades to pretend someone with cancer had something else. Regardless, this person has a bad case of "If it didn't happen to anyone I knew, it didn't happen to anyone!"
Commenter D: My grandmother died from breast cancer in the 1950s. Her body was cremated immediately for fear the cancer would spread
Commenter A: "Peter De Vries met his future wife, poet and author Katinka Loeser, in 1943 when she won an award from Poetry magazine. The couple moved to Westport, Connecticut in 1948 They were the parents of four children: sons Derek and Jon, daughters Jan and Emily. Emily died in 1960 at age ten after a two year fight with leukemia."
Emily's death was a big part of the story behind his novel, The Blood of the Lamb. 1960 is before 1962, is it not?
Commenter E When my sister, brother and I were growing up in the 70s, there was always at least one "in memorium" page in the high school yearbook to remember someone who had died from their graduating class, and that included cancer deaths. As for no autism, it's simply that autistic kids went to "special" schools in the 1970s and 1980s. They weren't integrated into regular schools.
Commenter C: Cancer has been known about since ancient times, FFS. And um, if ALL wasn't a problem before St. Jude's, why was St. Jude's built?
Commenter F: A kid in my neighborhood came down with polio when I was a kid, just before the Salk vaccine. That kid survived. There was a little boy up the street who had leukemia. He did not survive. Polio scared me more, since it's communicable. It's amazing the inversion in survival rates for kids with most leukemias since 1953, and the present -- another triumph of evidence-based science that the alt-med wackos would like people not to know.
Commenter G: I have asthma, my sister has asthma, my mum has asthma, her mum DIED at 37 because of asthma. VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE ASTHMA. Accept that your genes aren't perfect and move on.
Commenter H: Oh this makes me want to rant. My high school senior class of around 750 students had three die of leukemia. Now my high school sat downwind of nuclear tests in Nevada in the 50's, so I always thought that it had something to do with it. Except, when I grew up, took real statistics courses, and learned real biology, it was clear that it was merely random, with a slightly above expected numbers of leukemia out of a group of 750, but by no means high.
But two points. First, cancer is just as common now as it was 20 years ago and 50 years ago. We do diagnose it better now than we did in the 70's, so we're catching some cancers earlier than we did. Second, we actually cure some of these cancers. Leukemia was a death sentence when I was in high school. It isn't now.
Most kids are completely healthy these days. We have more obese children but that's because of bad parenting, not vaccines. There seems to be more autoimmune diseases, and I would like to know why, especially since I'm afflicted with it, but there is no way that vaccines cause autoimmune diseases, since they are just so unrelated. If the vaccine deniers want to tell me that there is more disease now in kids, please provide peer reviewed data. I'd love to read it.
Commenter H: By the way, the facts are that the mortality rate for males 10-14 in 1980 was 38.3 per 10,000. In 2003, it was 23.1. In other words, in one generation, we nearly cut the mortality rate for children by 50%. Seems like modern medicine is fucking outstanding. The writers of that stercus taurinum above ought to kiss the nates of every biomedical researcher they know. You can start with my smelly nates.
Commenter H: One more small point. About 1% of teenage deaths today are the result of firearms. Perfututum guns. I'll bet more kids die of guns in a day than in the whole history of vaccines. Why don't these beslubbering, boil-brained, harpy anti-vaxxers do something useful with their pathetic lives and get rid of guns. [redacted].
Commenter H: More data for the boil-brained vaccine-denying hedge-pigs. Life expectancy at birth by decade. If kids are actually unhealthier now, they're certainly living longer. Must be that modern miracle of medicines, including vaccines.
Commenter H: One more by the way. Those of us who have had the smallpox vaccine, I was right at the end of that vaccine, have 5X higher protection against HIV infections. In fact, one of the hypotheses of HIV/AIDS suddenly taking off in the 80's is that we stopped vaccinating against smallpox. It's amazing what vaccines do in making your immune system smarter in fighting pathogens.
Here's one of the primary research studies in vitro that show the potential physiological pathway for observations of 5X lower rates of HIV infection in those who have had smallpox vaccinations: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2881106/ Significantly reduced CCR5-tropic HIV-1 replication in vitro in cells from subjects previously...
Commentator I:Also, I don't think cancer screening was all that great in the 60s and 70s. Medical technology has come such a long way since then and we can detect things earlier and earlier.
Commenter J: I had a classmate in the 70s who died of bone cancer.
We also had a kid in my 4th grade class who was, in retrospect, clearly autistic -- he couldn't cope, we had no idea what was wrong with him, the teacher couldn't cope, and one day he had a major freakout and was removed from the school. This was when "mainstreaming" was first being floated as an idea in the school district, and it was being handled badly; for the most part, people just found it easier to put these kids in institutions and "special schools", as mentioned above.
As a side note, even wild animals get cancer. That's what's wiping out the Tasmanian devils, is cancer caused by a virus; and infrared cameras set up to monitor wildlife in parks often catch the characteristic signature of tumors in the skin.
Commenter K: This attitude futuō with my life. My youngest had a prenatal hypoxic brain injury resulting in multiple disabilities, including social/emotional/developmental issues. People constantly tell me how kids are sicker now and he probably has problems because of food, vaccines, toxins, blah blah blah. Ummm, no. Just this one kid, sick with his unique troubles. He's no one's canary. He's no symbol for you to beat your drum about. Just my kid.
Commenter L: Those of us who have academic training in History can get just as outraged as you Science folk! I have a book, on my desk right now, called "The Sunday School Reciter". Like a lot of 19th century books, it does not include a publication date, but I'd say its around 1890. There's a poem in it by Emma Alice Brown called "Measuring the Baby". In the first 3 verses, children are playing with their baby brother in the garden, and measuring his height against the flowers. In the last verses, they are measuring him for his coffin. IN the past, the death of babies was so utterly commonplace that it was regarded as a suitable subject to write verse about, and for children to recite aloud. Happy to scan the poem,if anyone is interested. I also have a small collection of 19th Century cabinet photographs of dead children. (I'm not morbidbly obessesed - my pet subject is late C19th Social History - and these were commonplace and, sadly, often the only picture a parent had of their child.)
Commenter H: I looked up the rate of leukemia, which is a typical adolescent early childhood cancer. The rate for boys, from 1975 to 2010, increased 0.0% in those 35 years. For girls, about 0.2% over 35 years. Both are insignificant changes. So more evidence that the author of that stercus taurinum is beyond stupid, beyond ignorant, but is plainly a delusional ninny who invents data to serve their evil purposes of denying children vaccines.
I am just obsessed with debunking the stupidity of this person. In the 1930's, cancer diagnoses were almost always made post mortem. In other words, the death certificate, without an autopsy, would state something, and frankly, they didn't know a lot about cancer in 1930. Yet, despite all of this the rate of cancer in men in 1930, adjusted for 1970's population demographics was 133.9 per 100,000 individuals in the USA. In 1998, it was 187.7. Almost all of that increase was from lung cancer being better diagnosed pre mortem, going from 5.3% of cancers found in 1930 to 33% of male cancers in 1999.
In women, the results are more profound. In 1930, the 1970 adjusted rate of cancer in women was 156.1 per 100,000. In 1999, the adjusted rate was 135.3. Oh wait. You mean it dropped? This despite more women smoking. AND better diagnostic tools and screening for cancers such as the various types of breast cancer? Must be that diphtheria vaccine that reduced the cancer rate using the same flap-mouthed post hoc argument as the puttock who wrote those statements above. (Source here, sadly behind a paywall).
Commenter J: Oh, look, Neaderthals had cancer too! A Neanderthal living 120,000 years ago had a cancer that is common today, according to a fossil study.
I decided to look up the pre-vaccine, pre-treatment statistics for diphtheria. From History of Vaccines
1735 The Plague Among Children A terrifying diphtheria epidemic swept through New England. In some cases, entire families died of the disease. In one New Hampshire town, 32% of children under 10 died of diphtheria. The case-fatality ratio was almost 40%. Noah Webster (1758-1843) later wrote: “It was literally the plague among children. Many families lost three of four children—many lost all.” Treatments were largely ineffective. One approach was described in a Boston newspaper:
A clean environment, a healthy population, and vaccination are the surest means of preventing diphtheria, as can be seen in recent outbreaks. During the 1990's in the new independent republics of the former Soviet Union, there was a resurgence of diphtheria. Between 1990 and 1996, there were more than 110,000 cases and 2,900 fatalities. The resurgence was blamed on overcrowding, low hygiene levels, and falling vaccination rates created by the changing political climate.
Vaccinations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, and rubella were not associated with the risk of leukaemia. The odds ratio for each dose of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine was 0.81 (95% CI 0.68–0.96). Compared with children who received two or fewer doses of Hib vaccine, those who received three or more doses had a significantly reduced risk of childhood leukaemia (odds ratio = 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.32–0.94). The number of doses of hepatitis B vaccine received was not associated with leukaemia risk.
Conclusions Hib vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood leukaemia. Future studies with detailed exposure assessment and large sample sizes are needed to further address the role of vaccinations in the etiology of childhood leukaemia