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Mercury in Vaccines, Obesity & the 'Statin Revolution' | The Nation

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Mercury in Vaccines, Obesity & the 'Statin Revolution'

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What are your thoughts on mercury in vaccines and any possible side-effects?

Dr. Marc regularly answers readers' questions on matters relating to medicine, healthcare and politics. To send a query, click here.

About the Author

Dr. Marc Siegel
Dr. Marc Siegel is a practicing internist and an associate professor of medicine and a fellow in the Master Scholars...

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JOAN LEMLEY
Vero Beach FL

Dear Joan,

I am not convinced that mercury in vaccines is the cause of autism, or other neurological symptoms in humans, as some people argue. The data--even in rats--is vague and un-convincing. Moreover, after the public outcry over the issue, virtually all mercury-based elements in vaccines have been removed. However, having said that, the delay between the growing concern and when the mercury-based thimerosal began to be taken out of common vaccines is deeply disturbing. There was surely enough circumstantial evidence that this non-essential ingredient was potentially problematic for drug companies to stop including it long before they phased it out. This delay represents a lack of concern for public safety that is far from acceptable.


I am a college student and we were discussing the pharmacuetical industry in one of my classes. One of my classmates said that in the 1960's about half of all pharmacueticals were developed in Europe but then most European nations nationalized the pharmacuetical industry there, which caused a decline in innovation and now over 90 percent of all drugs are developed in the United States. What is the real story behind this?

SEAN CHRISTOPHER MULLIGAN
Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear Sean,

I don't think your friend was all wrong. But keep in mind that the drug company goliaths here in the US create the need for many of their products by direct-to-consumer ads (legal only in the US and New Zealand among industrialized countries), as well as plying doctors with "free lunches." The end result is plenty of overpriced, over-hyped me-too drugs, which are listed as new drugs, but may not add anything new to treatment.


I have to tell you, as a baby-boomer, I am finding more and more of my fellow boomer's walking away from the "statin revolution." We believe that like Ritalin Statin is the "New Drug" of an over-drugged nation. As soon we hit fifty, my generation has been told that Cholesterol is gonna get us. But the side effect's of the anti-cholesterol Statin have harmed my memory,my stamina and my overall quality of life. These are the same thing's I have been hearing from friends. So we are all tired of buying into all the fear we feel is being propagated by the drug companies to get us to buy their drugs. What's your view on Statin?

KAREN NEELY
Williamstown, New Jersey

Dear Karen,

I have devoted an entire chapter in my upcoming book to the question of how we are manipulated by fear to a compromised position of drug dependency. Having said that, I am not convinced that this applies perfectly to Statin drugs. In several studies, they have been shown to physically improve the look of coronary arteries, as well as lower cholesterol. The Europeans, who aren't subject to the same hype and distortion as we are, have studied Statins and shown that they also decrease the risk of stroke. Of course this doesn't mean they aren't over-prescribed. But in my opinion they remain valuable drugs in treating patients at significant risk for heart attack or stroke. As far as the cognitive changes you describe, this clearly needs to be further studied.


I wanted to say that I agree with you about the risks of bariatric surgery. I don't like being the biggest guy around but I know that if I just work on calorie control and make exercise a part of my life that I can change the shape of my body.

My formula is simple. I am trying to reduce calories by avoiding junk food and increasing calorie expenditure by swimming a minimum of a mile a day four to six days per week. What I am finding by sticking to this plan is that it has gotten to the point psychologically that on the days I miss a swim I genuinely notice a difference in mental attitude.

I was wondering what your opinion was about swimming as an exercise weight loss strategy. It is working for me but I keep hearing that "you can't lose weight swimming."

PETER WESTRE
St. Peter, MN

Dear Peter,

I enthusiastically endorse your approach, since much of American obesity is due to junk food and a sedentary life style. We sit in front of the television, watching ads of sexy foods, driving to the stores in our motorized chariots to get them. What could possibly be wrong with swimming? I have found that many of my exercising patients also eat less but drink more water when they sweat healthy sweat. Have you noticed that there isn't much sweating on television?

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