Failing the Smell Test

Posted on Oct 13, 2008 in Autism, Heavy Metals

From the Health Sciences Institute:

I’m never surprised when powerful corporations and their government pals subvert science and suppress the truth. That story is as old as the hills.

But I’m ALWAYS infuriated.

Puffed-up claims

In 2006, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was given permission to proceed with a study that would test chelation treatment in children with autism.

Simple, right? The treatment is somewhat controversial (it removes heavy metals from the body), but let’s at least test it and see if this could be a breakthrough for autistic kids and their parents.

But this past July we were told that the study was postponed and under review because of safety concerns.

Now keep in mind that more than 15 years ago chelation was approved by the FDA as a treatment for lead poisoning in adults and children. And keep in mind that the NIMH director supports the trial. In fact, in July, he told the Associated Press, “So many moms have said, ‘It’s saved my kids.'”

Nevertheless, the trial has now been cancelled. Reuters news service reports that health officials deemed this FDA-approved therapy too risky.

Really? Too risky for whom?

Those health officials tell us it puts the kids at risk. But I believe it’s WAY too risky for drug companies that manufacture vaccines. If chelation were proved to be successful in treating autism, it would refuel the debate over the link between autism and childhood vaccines. And this would happen at a time when the mainstream press is cooperating nicely, portraying any suggestion of that link as absurd.

Let’s look at some of the language.

Reuters: “Many studies and medical experts have dismissed the notion…”

Associated Press: “…based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism – a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science.”

MedPage Today: “…the trial was predicated on a theory that mercury exposure causes autism, which is rejected by most scientists.”

They’re like parrots, sitting in a cage, squawking their lines, but providing zero evidence to support these empty claims.

Devil in the details

The NIMH trial was cancelled because a SINGLE study found that when chelation was given to rats with lower levels of mercury or lead, the animals suffered cognitive impairments.

But the NIMH trial was already designed to test autistic children with low to heavy levels of mercury or lead. So if there was a fear that kids with low levels might be harmed, the OBVIOUS way to save the study was to simply tweak the requirements. If all the subjects recruited for the study had higher lead and mercury levels, then the danger suggested by the rat study would be irrelevant.


But no. That ONE rat study changed everything, we’re told. And in order to go forward, an additional approval process would be required – a torturous government procedure that would take four years. And that, we’re told, was the deal breaker. An NIMH official said, “During those four years, it is quite likely that additional research on the basic pathology of autism will provide deeper understanding of the causes of autism and more refined avenues for developing treatments.”

In other words – Show’s over folks. Move along. But cheer up. Because it’s “quite likely” that some sort of effective treatment will emerge. And it will get a full and proper review. As long as it doesn’t suggest in any way that vaccines might play a role in causing autism.

That road is closed.

“US Researchers Call Off Controversial Autism Study” Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press, 9/17/08,
“Officials Call Off controversial Autism Study” Will Dunham, Reuters, 9/17/08,
“NIMH Cancels Autism Chelation Trial” John Gever, MedPage Today, 9/19/08,
“Fringe Autism Treatment Could Get Federal Study” Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press, 7/9/08,