No of course it’s not. But someone thinks it is. I recently received the following email from Kelly – the email subject line being “Thimerasol Link to Autism”. I thought some of you might be amused by the following exchange:
I will keep this email brief so as to not be misinterpreted. I ran across your website by accident, but I just had to comment.
I do not want to be a part of all the political rhetoric and garbage. All I want to do is site personal experience and educate you on the facts. I have autism. The problem with thimerasol is that as an autistic person I lack the gene glutatione s-transferase. That gene filters out heavy metals from your body. When you lack the gene you cannot eliminate heavy metals, such as mercury, from your body. So, over time they build up and damage your organs and tissues.
Let's say someone passed you an old fashioned mercury thermometer and it accidentally fell and broke. You would jump up and get out of the room faster than one could blink. Then you would call the Fire Department so the Hazardous Materials team could clean up the mercury. Why is that? You have not ingested any of the mercury. Therefore, it is not dangerous. So what is the problem? After all, you have the gene to process the mercury out of your system.
It ticks me off how so called "scientists" with no personal experience, can debate an issue without ever listening to the other side. People with personal experience and knowledge have much more credibility than a scientist in a lab. When you are lactose intolerant, no one debates that you cannot properly digest milk. No one runs around and claims milk is bad. Because it is not for the rest of us. When you are diabetic, no one debates that you cannot properly break down sugar and carbohydrates. Sugar and carbohydrates are not bad for the rest of us. Then why is it so hard to believe that someone who is missing a gene to eliminate heavy metals from their bodies would have a devastating reaction to a heavy metal being ingested into their body? It may not be bad for the rest of you, but it is bad for some of us. Thimerasol does not cause autism, it simply is something we cannot tolerate. That to me is pretty simple.
If vaccines are required, and they should be, then pharmaceutical companies should take out the thimersol as a preservative. Then everyone could enjoy the benefits of building immunity without having their lives ripped from them with devasting effects of having mercury coarsing through their veins. Believe me, it is devasting. I live it every day.
You criticize scientists "with no personal experience", and state that "People with personal experience and knowledge have much more credibility than a scientist in a lab" - and then you write in detail about the gene for "glutatione s-transferase". How, exactly do you even know about the gene for glutathione s-transferase? From your personal experience? Of course not. The only reason you have even heard about the gene for glutathione s-transferase is from scientists working in a lab. So who really has any credibility here?
I’m afraid you have jumped to a conclusion about this gene, heavy metals, and autism that is not supported by the science. As I understand it, autistics have no deficiency in Glutathione, and even if they did it wouldn’t matter:
If the average human carries around approximately 6 milligrams of mercury how much glutathione should we require to deal with environmental mercury levels ? Even if several molecules of glutathione were required for each mercury molecule, we should have millions of times sufficient glutathione to get the job done. Compare that to the reported upper limit of exposure through vaccines which has been estimated at less than 250 micrograms. A person so severely deficient in glutathione they would be unable to detoxify 250 micrograms of mercury probably wouldn't survive long enough to be vaccinated in the first place. Every breath of air would expose them to lethal levels of ozone, pollutants and other oxidants.
I’m sorry Kelly, but this desperate need to blame Thimerosal despite the evidence is not helping anyone find the real causes of autism. You have absolutely no personal experience that has a hope in hell of telling you that glutathione s-transferase deficiency has caused your autism. You have no idea, no clue. Your only hope is with scientists.
She replied, but (and I know you’ll be really surprised by this), without addressing any of the points I raised. Instead there was a stream of fallacious reasoning. Her response and my replies are below.
Wow. I just passed on a friendly email about my personal experience to give you more insight into this problem. I tried to keep it brief so as to not be misinterpreted, but that didn't work. You read quite a bit into my email that was no where near what I intended. That is the problem with email, you cannot tell the other person's tone of voice, attitude, or inflection. So, we end up reading in to what they are saying.
A disingenuous start. The original email may have had a friendly tone, but she said she wanted to “educate [me] on the facts”. Somewhat arrogant. When her “education” didn’t take she now tries to make out that I’m over reacting or something, as though I am the one with a problem. It’s just an appeal to pity.
Do you have autism? How are you so passionate about this cause? I am impressed with the energy level you have concerning mercury and autism. How long have you been studying this? What is your background and training? I like your spunk, too.
I am passionate about applying critical thinking, and explaining how I apply it to issues such as the autism / mercury controversy.
Actually, I am a scientist by training. I practiced pharmacy for 7 years. I also have 25+ years as a pharmaceutical rep as well.
An attempt to claim authority.
I was in no way criticizing scientists.
Yes you were . You complained about "so called "scientists" with no personal experience" and you wrote "People with personal experience and knowledge have much more credibility than a scientist in a lab".
It is like anything else in this world, you are the expert if you actually have the condition. You possess a personal, intimate knowledge that someone who does not have the disease can never possess. Scientists and physicians get their science and understanding originally from the actual patient.
Scientists study the patient using the scientific method. The person with the condition knows how it feels, what the disadvantages of it are. She is the expert on that, perhaps. But she doesn’t have any special insight into the causes of the condition.
When they loose sight of that, is when it angers me. They can debate and believe all they want to, but that does not make it true.
Something you might like to consider yourself before you write any more on this subject, Kelly.
In my experience, the best physicians out there are the ones who have a personal experience with a disease. Ask any well known, highly respected physician why they went in to the specialty they did and they will tell you either a family member had the disease or they personally struggle with it. I have worked with top thought leaders throughout the world in my career and the answer is always the same. The credibility comes from actually experiencing an illness or disease. You have an edge when you are that close to the disease. One of the best Ob-Gyn Oncologists at MD Anderson lost his wife to ovarian cancer. He has a personal vested interest in finding a cure for that type of cancer, since losing his wife his daughter is now at risk. He will be more open to new knowledge, theories, and treatments than another expert who is only using straight science, speculation, and theories.
Such a person will be more motivated, may feel more passionate about finding a cure, may work longer hours etc. But he will absolutely not have any better idea of the causes of such illnesses just because a spouse died. And anyone who thought he did would be fooling himself and would be a lousy researcher.
Take for example, my friends with MS or Breast Cancer. I would never go to them and lecture them about their diseases. They have the disease and possess an intimate knowledge that neither you nor me will ever know. Thank goodness. It is very presumptuous and arrogant to boldly lecture and/or correct someone who is living with a disease every day.
Wrong. If that person claimed they knew what caused the disease, with no reason, then you would be perfectly correct in telling them they were wrong.
Any reputable scientist will tell you that no matter how much you read and study something, it does not always mean that is what can be replicated in the lab or human experience. That is why it takes an average of 12 years and $400 million to bring a drug to market. Yet, every year dozens of drugs are pulled from the market, because you just cannot replicate the entire human experience in a study. You cannot predict all the possible consequences and all the possible outcomes that could happen when a large number of people consume a medication. But, the FDA does the best they can. Like anything else, the system isn't perfect, but it is pretty darn good.
I know all that. Funny. I though you said that people with the condition knew more that the scientist. So why do we need scientists to do these tests that cost so much? Why don’t we just ask the people with the illnesses what caused it and what the cure is? You prove yourself wrong with your own words Kerry. You demonstrate that only science will determine what the cure is (or isn’t), not the person with the disease.
Something concerned me in your email. You keep referring to "supported by science." Come on, you know that science is an ever evolving field and we have barely touched the surface on any one disease.
Yeees, but that still doesn’t mean that you know, just because you happen to have a condition, by some magic, that autism is caused by not having the gene for glutatione s-transferase. As I wrote to you, and as you have ignored, there is no way you could possibly know that other than through science. Tell me – how do you know this is true Kelly? How did you even hear about the gene for glutatione s-transferase? Explain how that works please.
Forming conclusions, based on past events and results is what we do. Then, we continually try to prove or disprove our theories. There will always be conflicting data and conflicting opinions. That is why scientific symposiums are such wonderful places. The ability to share information that one scientist has done with other scientists is phenomenal for the advancement of science in general. Everyone has their theories, their studies, and their opinions. Theories and opinions are based on so many different things and I am always leery of people who are extremely adamant in their opinions.
As you seem to be, you mean? Because you are adamant in your opinion of what causes autism and yet you have not cited a single study that demonstrates that. I cited an examination of a study that the mercury militia thinks shows it, and my cite explains why they are wrong. You ignored that cite. Did you even read it? Because if you didn’t read it, and still think you’re right, I would say you are extremely adamant in your opinions. You should be leery of yourself.
When they are close-minded
It is not closed minded to reject claims that are not true. On the other hand, it is closed minded to insist that autism is caused by a missing gene for glutatione s-transferase although the article I cited for you (that you ignored) shows it is not the case. It is closed minded to insist you are right when you have nothing but your arrogant belief that you know more just because you happen to be autistic. Read The appeal to be open-minded to learn more.
I have to ask where their funding or loyalties lie.
No you don’t. The conclusions do not depend on the motives of the funding. Read Ad Hominem to learn why.
I always find it humorous to sit with the skeptics. I like a little controversy, too.
I don't know how old you are, but were you around for all the AIDS symposiums, discussions, and rhetoric in the early 80's? Fascinating theories and discussions. What we thought was absolute has been proven and subsequently disproven over the last 20+ years. The heated debates were amazing. Some well-known scientists stuck their necks out, were ridiculed and ostracized at the time, and are now revered. Love it.
What theories that were disproven? I only remember Peter Duesberg who said that HIV did not cause AIDS. He’s still saying it, as far as I know. He’s still wrong. Anyway, I think you are trying to appeal to “science was wrong before”. Read the link to find out why that is fallacious.
Citing my own personal experience and a plethora of studies,
No – only citing your own experience. Not one study. Nada. Zip. What? Didn’t you think I’d notice?
when a person lacks glutathione s-transferase to properly eliminate heavy metals from their body, the heavy metals will build up and damage organs.
Still no evidence that’s what causes autism.
Surely, you have heard of the dangers of mercury poisoning, arsenic poisoning, lead poisoning, etc.? There is an easy test to determine the levels in someone's body. There are endless studies showing the devastating effects on the body from prolonged exposure and/or toxic levels of any heavy metal be it mercury, lead, arsenic, copper, titanium, aluminum, etc. Just recently, several children in south Dallas were tested and treated for lead poisoning because their homes are near an old paint factory. They had the gene, but because there were such high levels around, their bodies could not eliminate it quickly enough and they succumbed to the effects. To my knowledge, all are doing okay, but suffering some permanent damage to their organs due to prolonged exposure. No one can dispute that they are ill due to lead exposure.
Now we’re on to arsenic and lead. Nice misdirect, but still no evidence that Thimerosal causes autism.
Autistic people have toxic levels of all heavy metals, not just mercury.
Evidence please. (Hint: I don’t think there is any. Oh, and I wouldn’t bother to cite those debunked “baby haircut” studies. Up to you though.)
And I must correct you. This is not a desperate need on my part to blame thimerosal.
I’m glad to hear it. Many others do, though.
The facts are the facts.
Yes they are. Only you don’t have any.
People ingest heavy metals from a variety of sources, not just vaccines.
Oh, but your email subject was “Thimerasol Link to Autism”. Now it’s heavy metals (not just mercury) from a variety of sources, not just vaccines. Standard woo – shift the goalposts. Still no evidence it causes autism, though.
My health deteriorated after each injection I received as a kid. Luckily I am old enough that very few vaccines were required.
That makes no sense. You must have been young once. Unless you were created in a lab. Were you created in a lab?
I did not go completely downhill until I had my mercury fillings removed. If this is not done properly, it can be dangerous for anyone - even you.
Oh, now we’re in total woo land. Mercury fillings.
That is actually just common sense. If too much of a toxic substance is released into the blood stream, the person will suffer the problems associated with that substance.
I thought I had a quailfied dentist, little did I know the damage that was to come. Trust me, I have learned more about the devastating effects of mercury and autism first hand. And, as a scientist, I have done my research and homework. I do not rely simply on what someone cites in one small study. Any study can be manipulated to say whatever you want it to say. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of studies that support the harmful effects of heavy metals on the body that are well controlled and reputable.
Yes. But not one study that shows thimerosal causes autism. Funny that.
Reason with me for a moment. Thimerosal is harmful by inhalation and ingestion, and lethal between 50 and 1000 times the usual intake, which for mercury is . 0.1 milligram of mercury per cubic meter of air (0.1 mg/m3). I wanted to get my hands on the original package insert and studies submitted to the FDA by Eli Lilly in the '20's. Thimerosal is a substance like several other older drugs, that if submitted today, would not be approved by the FDA.
But none of that matters if your liver is incapable of eliminating the mercury. No one is debating that mercury, a neurotoxin, is dangerous. Look at all the warnings on fish consumption, flourescent lighting, etc. The FDA even admitted that the vaccine schedule in 1999 exceeded the EPA standards for mercury exposure. No one is debating that mercury is toxic. No one suggests that the levels in my body are in any way okay. Autism is on the rise and that should be a cause for concern. We need to find out why there is such a exponential rise in autism, or any disease for that matter.
Yes we do. And insisting that thimerosal causes autism, despite the increasing evidence it does not, will make it harder to find the cause. Why don’t you see that?
Aaah, science, we learn we grow. It is a fascinating journey if you look back at the history of medicine. So many people unfortunately die as we try desperately to figure out disease processes. When we barely understand something, we may be actually hurting the people we are supposedly treating. But, as we study, advance, and grow in our knowledge, things change. Molecular geneticism has played a huge role in identifying problems and improving treatment outcomes. Genetics, genomes are something to keep your eye on in the future.
The debate will continue on any link with mercury and autism. But, please, don't completely discount someone who has a disease and therefore has a more intimate knowledge of the disease than you. I ask that you open your mind up to the fact that heavy metals have been undeniably proven to be toxic and that those of us who cannot eliminate those substances from our body will suffer if we ingest even a tiny amount.
Still waiting for the studies you say you’ve read. And I’m still waiting for you to open your mind to the possibility that you are wrong.
My motivation is simple. I personally do not want anyone else to suffer like I have and so I try to gently inform others of the dangers of mercury, lead, and heavy metal toxicity. My intention is to educate and hopefully prevent someone else, especially a much more vulnerable child, from dealing with the horrendous effects of heavy metal toxicity. I have been there and it sucks.
You have autism. But you are not educating anyone as to its cause. Sorry, but you are part of the problem.