Quoth the anti-vaccine group SANE Vax: Beware HPV DNA in Gardasil!

Every so often, there’s a bit of misinformation that starts spreading around the Internet that shows up in enough places that our readers take notice and e-mail us about it. What happens is that these in essence become “requests.” We at SBM are, of course, happy to consider all requests and sometimes will actually take them on, particularly when doing so will be educational about the mission of this blog, namely discussing science-based medicine and providing much needed critical analysis to the pseudoscience that is, alas, becoming more and more common in medicine. A frequent topic of this blog is, not surprisingly, the anti-vaccine movement, which is arguably the most dangerous (to public health, at least) pseudoscience movement currently in existence. The misinformation about vaccines that anti-vaccine activists spread through websites, podcasts, radio, TV, and other media is protean, and it’s difficult to keep up with it all.

Which is probably why I hadn’t heard this bit of misinformation about the HPV vaccine from an anti-vaccine group I hadn’t heard of before (or at least didn’t remember) called SANE Vax. (I include the “Inc.” because SAFE Vax, Inc. itself insists on using it frequently in all its press releases.) If you’ve been in the biz a while, as I have, you can tell right away from the very name of this website exactly where its creators are coming from. Here’s a hint. It’s not the mission that the website claims that it is, which is stated thusly:

The Sane Vax Mission is to promote Safe, Affordable, Necessary & Effective vaccines and vaccination practices through education and information. We believe in science-based medicine. Our primary goal is to provide the information necessary for you to make informed decisions regarding your health and well-being. We also provide referrals to helpful resources for those unfortunate enough to have experienced vaccine-related injuries.

Oh, no. SANE Vax didn’t go and claim that its members believe in science-based medicine, did it? Science-based medicine. You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means. (I know, I know, I use that quip far too often, but I like it.) In any case, SANE Vax appears to be anti-vaccine to the core, which should be obvious from its name. Clearly, if its creators think they’re promoting “sane vaccination,” by implication they very likely think that by comparison the current vaccination schedule is not sane. Further supporting the rather mind-numbingly obvious conclusion that SANE Vax is indeed anti-vaccine are videos featuring Andrew Wakefield, Barbara Loe Fisher, and other luminaries of the anti-vaccine movement, as well as a Vaccine Victims Memorial, the latter of which is a page taken right out of the playbook of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), one of the oldest anti-vaccine groups still in existence. Meanwhile, it’s list of “vaccine groups” contains all the usual anti-vaccine suspects, like the Australian Vaccination Network, Age of Autism, ThinkTwice, Generation Rescue, and Impfschaden.

I also don’t believe for a minute that SANE Vax is, as it bills itself, a “vaccine safety” group. For one thing, in the comments of two of the SANE Vax posts I’m about to discuss, Australian skeptic Peter Bowditch shows up to ask, “Which vaccines are “necessary” and “effective” to match the ‘N’ and ‘E’ in SANE?” He has yet to receive an answer. This fulfills one of my key criteria of an anti-vaccine activist in that when, after hearing her piously pontificate that she is “not anti-vaccine,” you ask her which specific vaccines she supports and get either no answer or dancing around the question with no real answer.

So what’s got SANE Vax in an uproar? DNA. But not just any DNA. Recombinant DNA. But not just any recombinant DNA. HPV recombinant DNA. Take a look at some posts that appeared on the SANE Vax blog over the weekend and on Tuesday:

Oh, no! DNA! The horror…the horror.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s almost exactly the same fear mongering nonsense that Helen Ratajczak used to try to claim that homologous recombination of fetal DNA in vaccines with the DNA in babies’ brains resulted in autoimmune inflammation that led to autism. In this case, the vaccine is the HPV vaccine, but the arguments are merely a variation on the same scientifically ignorant theme. Here’s what SANE Vax is :

SANE Vax Inc. contracted with an independent lab to test for contamination and found HPV recombinant DNA (rDNA) in 13 vaccine vials. The Gardasil vials with different lot numbers were from New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Poland, France and three states in the U.S. 100% of the samples tested positive for the presence of the genetically modified HPV DNA.

Dr. Sin Hang Lee, a pathologist at the Milford Hospital pathology laboratory well-known for using cutting-edge DNA sequencing for molecular diagnoses, was initially contracted to examine a single sample of Gardasil for possible contamination. This sample tested positive for recombinant HPV-11 and HPV-18 residues, both of which were firmly attached to the aluminum adjuvant.

Wow. Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Actual HPV DNA! But not just any HPV DNA. Oh, no. We’re talking recombinant HPV-11 and HPV-18 residues, which–horror of horrors!–were attached to the dreaded aluminum adjuvant! Stop the factories! Stop injecting our little girls with that evil vaccine whose only purpose is to encourage them to go out and have unprotected sex, knowing that they won’t get HPV!

Now hold on just a minute. I got a little carried away.

Let’s take a look first. First of all, one notes that there is not a single scientific paper–or even scientific report–describing the methodology used and the specific tests used. True, in SaneVax’s letter to the FDA, Norma Erickson provides an actual picture of an actual graph from an actual DNA sequencing run in order to look all science-y, but then she also says:

The SANE Vax Inc. data, including the electropherograms of short target sequencing used to validate the HPV DNA detected in the thirteen (13) Gardasil samples, each with a different lot number, are available for your review, provided appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the proprietary processes and information utilized by our laboratory to test the samples.

Protect the “proprietary” processes used to test the samples? Why on earth does the Milford Hospital Pathology Laboratory need to use “proprietary” processes to test for recombinant DNA in the vaccine? Whenever I see a result like this attributed to proprietary, non-transparent methodology, it sends up huge red flags, particularly when it comes to doing something like detecting DNA contamination. I could do it in my own laboratory using simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and then sequencing the DNA sequences (if any) that I managed to amplify up! There’s no need for anything proprietary, other than choosing the PCR primers properly! I could use PCR kits right off the shelf and any of a number of PCR machines, either the old warhorse in my lab or the spiffier, newer machines that some other investigators in nearby labs have. Again, the key is choosing the right primers and working out the right conditions, but none of that is anything particularly difficult, although testing different conditions can be time consuming and require a fair amount of trial-and-error drudgery.

Before I get to the significance (or, far more likely, lack of significance) of this finding. Let’s take a look at the methodology. As is my wont when I see someone making a claim I haven’t seen before, I did a bit of Googling for Dr. Sin Hang Lee, and it turns out that he is rather well known in the Lyme disease community for having apparently invented a new test for Lyme disease. That may or may not be dubious. What is definitely dubious is that he’s also teamed up with SANE Vax—excuse me, SANE Vax, Inc.—to offer an HPV genotyping test announced on the quackery-promoting This latter link actually suggested to me what Dr. Lee’s “proprietary” methodology might be, as it’s described as “nested PCR with short target DNA sequencing for HPV genotyping.” Going back to look at his Lyme disease DNA test, I find this paper, which also used nested PCR to detect sequences from the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi.

So what is nested PCR? As readers might recall, PCR is a method to amplify nucleic acid sequences, like those of DNA or RNA. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia entry for PCR contains a pretty good description. Having a great deal of experience with PCR, I know, as does anyone who works with PCR, that the greatest power of PCR also leads to its greatest difficulties in its usage, namely its extreme sensitivity. PCR is so sensitive that it’s very, very easy to amplify a contaminant or for the primers to bind to (and thereby amplify) DNA sequences other than the one of interest. This problem goes double (or even quadruple) for nested PCR. The reason is that nested PCR involves using one set of primers to amplify a DNA sequence, and then taking some of the resultant reaction mixture and using a second set of primers that amplifies a smaller sequence within the sequence amplified in the first PCR run. The process is illustrated below. First, here’s routine PCR:

And here’s nested PCR:

The usefulness of nested PCR is two-fold: First, because two different sets of primers are used, specificity is increased and the amplification of contaminants decreased because, although there might be contaminants amplified in the first PCR run, it’s very unlikely that any of the unwanted PCR products so amplified contain binding sites for both of the new primers used in the second PCR run. Second, nested PCR can be very, very sensitive, even more sensitive than “simple” PCR, depending upon the number of amplification cycles used in each PCR step. It’s that sensitivity that allows nested PCR to amplify very tiny amounts of target sequence.

Which brings me to the lack of any detail in this report.

Let’s say, for the moment, that Dr. Lee did everything right and actually did detect a bit of recombinant DNA from the HPV DNA used to make the vaccine still remaining in the 13 vials of vaccine he tested. It’s possible. He’s apparently made a name for himself in developing PCR-based diagnostic tests and has published in the peer-reviewed literature. Would it matter? One factor to consider is how much DNA was present, which was almost certainly very, very tiny, given that it took nested PCR to detect it. However, we don’t know how much was detected, because nothing on the SANE Vax posts tells us enough to let us know approximately how much was detected. Did Dr. Lee amplify his template with 40 cycles, followed by another 40 cycles? That would imply an incredibly tiny amount of DNA, indeed, and would actually be very difficult to do without a lost of false positives. Given that, and given the probably minuscule amount of DNA detected, even assuming these aren’t false positives, there is no justification for statements like this:

In an effort to help her now very sick daughter the mother went to an MD practicing naturopath who conducted a toxicity test that eventually found HPV DNA in the girl’s blood. The significance of this finding is that it is highly unusual to find HPV DNA in the blood. HPV, if present in the body, exists in the epithelial (skin and mucosa) membranes. HPV or its DNA, by itself does not survive for any great length of time in the bloodstream. Why was the HPV DNA in her bloodstream two years post-vaccination?

My answer would be: Probably because the naturopath, like most naturopaths, didn’t have a clue what he was doing or how when he “detected” HPV DNA in the blood. If Dr. Lee had clue one, that’s what he would have said. But he didn’t. He said this instead:

According to Dr. Lee, “‘Natural HPV DNA does not remain in the bloodstream for very long. However, the HPV DNA in Gardasil™ is not ‘natural’ DNA. It is a recombinant HPV DNA (rDNA) – genetically engineered – to be inserted into yeast cells for VLP (virus-like-particle) protein production. rDNA is known to behave differently from natural DNA. It may enter a human cell, especially in an inflammatory lesion caused by the effects of the aluminum adjuvant, via poorly understood mechanisms.

“Once a segment of recombinant DNA is inserted into a human cell, the consequences are hard to predict. It may be in the cell temporarily or stay there forever, with or without causing a mutation. Now the host cell contains human DNA as well as genetically engineered viral DNA.”

This is utter nonsense. First off, as I described before, it’s not a trivial matter to get recombinant DNA into human cells and expressing the protein that its sequence codes for. It’s worth repeating what I described when I first encountered this sort of claim in a different context. For rDNA to do what Dr. Lee worries about, the minute amount of rDNA in the HPV vaccine would have to:

  • Find its way into human cells in significant quantities, which is highly unlikely given the tiny amount that, even in the worst case, is there.
  • Express the protein that it codes for, which would require that the DNA be intact, complete with its promoter and regulatory regions. Again, this is incredibly unlikely, given the amount of DNA we’re talking about unlikely.

I actually have some experience with direct intramuscular injection of DNA to try to get gene expression, at least in the distant past. Indeed, some of the earliest experiments studying gene regulation in rat muscle by direct injection of plasmid DNA were performed in the laboratory where I did my PhD work. I knew the graduate student who was doing it, and even now I know investigators who are working on DNA vaccines. In humans, it takes microgram quantities of intact plasmid DNA, and even then expression levels are usually low without special help, such as the “gene gun” or other techniques. Indeed, this is arguably the single biggest problem that needs to be overcome in developing effective DNA-based vaccines. Also remember that the HPV vaccine is made of non-infectious HPV-like particles, which are basically formed from the L1 surface protein of the HPV virus, which makes the outer coat of the virus particle. Even in the highly unlikely situation that the tiny amount of recombinant DNA alleged to be left behind in Gardasil could get into human cells and actually make detectable amounts of VLP, the only place it’s likely to be able to do that is in the muscle in the immediate vicinity of the injection site.

None of this prevents SANE Vax from extrapolating beyond science and reason:

SANE Vax Inc. wants to know how many adolescents who have suffered adverse reactions post Gardasil vaccination have HPV DNA in their blood. What are the medical ramifications should HPV DNA remain in the bloodstream for an extended period of time?

Does the aluminum adjuvant become the carrier for HPV DNA causing said DNA to remain in the blood and/or organs for an extended length of time?

Since viral DNA cannot replicate by itself (it needs a host cell) what happens if genetically engineered viral DNA enters a human host cell?

In a followup post, SANE Vax demands:

  • What autoimmune-related disorders could result from this contamination?
  • Is it possible for this contamination to initiate gene mutations which may lead to cancer?
  • What genetic changes (mutagenesis) could occur should the residual HPV DNA enter and begin reproducing in a human cell?

All of this is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. First things first. Before anyone takes the claim that there is HPV DNA left in HPV vaccines and, more importantly, before anyone does anything (if, indeed, anything even needs to be done, which it probably doesn’t), an external laboratory needs to replicate Dr. Lee’s results. Interestingly, SANE Vax now appears to be backpedaling a bit:

The HPV DNA testing was performed by Dr. Sin Hang Lee, a pathologist at the Milford Hospital pathology laboratory known in using cutting-edge DNA sequencing for molecular diagnoses. This methodology was first reported to the FDA in 2006 and has been published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals, stated Erickson.

If Dr. Lee’s methodology was reported to the FDA in 2006 and has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, then what’s “proprietary” about it, and why is he so reluctant just to publish his results regarding the HPV vaccine? I challenge Dr. Lee and SANE Vax to publish in full the complete methodology used to make this finding, along with the results, and, no, this claim in the comments of one of the press releases doesn’t fly:

Question #3 – The results are already included as an attachment in the SANE Vax press release.

I tried to figure out what she meant, because if the results are included anywhere on the SANE Vax website, I couldn’t find them. Then I looked again at the original press release. The “attachment” there is simply a snippet of the graph from a DNA sequencing reaction. That’s not “results.” That could have come from anywhere, including just directly sequencing a plasmid containing HPV sequences. At the very least, any full report should include a description of the methodology, including sequences of the PCR primers, the temperatures and times of the PCR cycles, and gels of the PCR results, complete with positive and negative controls at each step of the nested PCR, plus sequencing of the PCR products. What SANE Vax has provided as “results” is meaningless and does not allow scientists to determine whether Dr. Lee detected what he claims to have detected. Sorry, Charlie. This won’t fly.

I find it most ironic that SANE Vax repeatedly calls on the FDA and Merck to be “transparent,” but nothing about the way SANE Vax has publicized its “results” is in the least bit transparent, nor has Dr. Lee’s methodology to obtain these results been peer-reviewed. Worse, in the SANE Vax letter to the FDA, SANE Vax demands assurances that the FDA will protect Dr. Lee’s proprietary methodology before it will provide the FDA with its results. The hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty are staggering. More importantly, without SANE Vax’s alleged results being available to the FDA and independent scientists to examine, all we have to support the claim that there is recombinant DNA in the HPV vaccine is the word of an anti-vaccine group.

Color me not particularly worried. Until there is independent verification, it’s utterly pointless even to worry about these other questions because the source, being rabidly anti-HPV vaccine, is suspect, and there is no way to determine if the methodology used is valid and not likely to produce false positives. After all, the HPV vaccine is tested for the presence of recombinant DNA, and it’s below the limit of detection of standard techniques; otherwise, Merck, the FDA, and other scientists would have detected it before. Only a scientist affiliated with an anti-vaccine group can seemingly detect it. Moreover, even if Dr. Lee did detect what previously couldn’t be detected before, clearly he’s detecting rDNA at such a low quantity that it’s doubtful that it would be harmful in the least. Certainly, given such a tiny amount of rDNA, it’s downright silly to talk about whether the aluminum adjuvant could somehow become a “carrier” for HPV DNA that allows it to be present in the blood for an extended period of time. Given that the HPV rDNA couldn’t replicate, the law of conservation of mass is enough to dismiss this concern as ridiculous, because it would take far more DNA than could possibly be in the adjuvant to produce detectable levels in the blood for long periods of time, particularly given that the way the L1 protein is made is to use expression plasmids designed to work in yeast, most of which will not work (or will work very poorly) in human cells. Finally, even in the incredibly unlikely event that a tiny amount of L1 rDNA could be expressed by surrounding muscle cells, what would it do? It would make more L1, arguably slightly increasing the efficacy of the vaccine.

Maybe Dr. Lee should be come a homeopath. He seems to think that the more the HPV DNA is diluted, the stronger it becomes.

Posted in: Science and Medicine, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (55) ↓

55 thoughts on “Quoth the anti-vaccine group SANE Vax: Beware HPV DNA in Gardasil!

  1. Jan Willem Nienhuys says:

    an MD practicing naturopath who conducted a toxicity test that eventually found HPV DNA in the girl’s blood.

    When naturopaths are ‘testing’ they may use various methods, such as:
    – electroacupuncture, Voll style. This involves measuring skin resistance in acupuncture points and interpreting a resistance that is too high, too low or increasing too quickly after an initial low, all with respect to an imagined reference value. As the skin resistance mostly depends on the pressure applied with the pen-like measuring electrode this method is no better than a dowsing rod. In the Voll variant the measuring current passes near a metal box containing closed glass phials with homeopathic remedies or ‘toxins’ or ‘allergens’ and supposedly the radiations of these substances influence the current: if with a remedy in place the pathological values disappear, it means the remedy is appropriate, if with a toxin in place the values (of the skin resistance) become ‘pathological’, the body is or has been exposed to that toxin. With these kind of techniques one can even establish that a person’s illness is caused by a ‘hereditary load’ such as amalgam dental fillings of one’s grandfather. And don’t think MD’s are above believing all of this.
    – biotensor. This IS a kind of dowsing rod. It is first held over the blood sample (or the patient) and then over some kind of reference substance and if it vibrates (or not) one has a diagnosis.
    – blood crystallization test. Popular among antroposophs. The blood is mixed with a copper chloride solution, and then the mixture is evaporated. The crystallization pattern is supposed to be diagnostic.
    – live blood analysis: the blood is put on a slide without any kind of coloring or preparation, and (I believe) covered with a second slide and then examined with a dark field microscope. The ‘microscopist’ sees various artifacts that are interpreted as nasty things that shouldn’t be in the blood like fungus or endobionts (for this one has to believe in the Enderlein theory that says that micro-organisms can mutate into each other, so virusses, bacteria, fungi, and protein fragments are all part of the same life cycles ).

    Or the naturopath may have sent the blood sample to a ‘specialised lab’. But the phrase ‘toxicity test’ suggest that a test was performed to detect ‘toxins’, i.e. some kind of variant of Voll style electroacupuncture.

    If anyone knows more crazy ‘toxity tests’ I am interested.

    I doubt Lee can become a homeopath, at least not a classical one. A classical homeopath believes that merely diluting is not enough. In between the substances have to be amplified by hitting the phial 10x vertically agains a soft but firm object such as the leather binding of a book. Modern homeopaths believe that they can use machines to directly transfer the ‘frequency’ of the original diluted medication to a solvent. Alternatively one may just speak the name of the remedy to the solvent. Someone who believes in his own PCR, certainly will not believe in the amplification methods of others. But he can start a new school of homeopathy in which the shaking and diluting is not done in Hahnemann style and also not in Korsakov style but by nested PCR.

  2. Luna_the_cat says:

    “…an anti-vaccine group I hadn’t heard of before (or at least didn’t remember) called SANE Vax.”

    *ahem* I emailed you about these people twice, months ago….

    Despite the fact that you must have missed this, I’m glad you’ve got around to tackling them now. VERY glad.

  3. David Gorski says:

    I average around 100-200 e-mails a day between four different e-mail accounts on weekdays between my job and the blogs. (Steve, I believe, gets even more.) Also, there are so many loony anti-vaccine groups that such a group has to produce some nonsense that catches my interest before I’ll blog about it. There was no intent and nothing personal there…

    Just saying’. :-)

  4. DrKnow says:

    “Is it possible for this contamination to initiate gene mutations which may lead to cancer?”

    Doubtful since the L1 protein being expressed is a structural protein of the virus and not part of the mechanism that can lead to transformation of an infected cell. Structural proteins are the bane of viruses…required but are usually the part of a virus most immunogenic (in most cases).
    HPV transformation requires over expression of the E6 & E7 genes products (bind to tumor suppressors) due to disruption of the E2 gene product which is due to integration of the HPV genome into the host chromosome. None of this can happen with the HPV vaccine because the early genes (the E genes) are not in the vaccine preparation at any point.

    If the rDNA is attached to the adjuvant then it would most likely be taken up by a cell into an endosome and fused with a lysosome and the contents processed and destroyed.

    AND… how is rDNA not “natural”. DNA is DNA…it will behave as DNA does regardless of how it was made.
    I will use this post in class during my HPV lecture…thanks

  5. Luna_the_cat says:

    TBH, I figured it was sheer workload and overabundance of available targets. I’ll forgive you. ;-D

    The entire “SANE Vax” site, though, is a target-rich environment. A couple of years ago one of the main drivers behind this site, Leslie Botha, was involved in heavily promoting our old friend Andrew Moulden ( ), and she is good pals with Cynthia Janak. Lest this be taken to be pure ad hominem against her arguments, I say this merely to be illustrative of the fact that this is her level of genuine physiological understanding: she considers these people credible.

  6. Harriet Hall says:

    Apart from the DNA business, the website prominently displays a list of all the VAERS reports for HPV vaccines, attributing 102 deaths to the vaccine as well as a whole list of other things like 760 disabled and 4616 “did not recover.” (Whatever that means!) They don’t understand that “death after vaccine” is not the same as “death because of vaccine.” I seem to remember reading about a “fatality from the flu vaccine” where the cause of death was actually an automobile accident. In reality, no deaths have been attributed to HPV vaccine.

  7. Ed Whitney says:

    I am told that there is a new movie about a global pandemic starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet, in which the anti-vaccine bloggers (like Jude Law) are the villains. What science cannot do (discrediting the vaccine obstructionists), perhaps Hollywood will.

  8. Calli Arcale says:


    If anyone knows more crazy ‘toxity tests’ I am interested.

    I’ve heard of some variants on the electroacupuncture test. In some, the patient holds a copper rod, or perhaps two electrodes. This affects a signal, which is supposed to be meaningful in some way, and the patient is challenged with various speciments in the manner you described in order to diagnose and determine treatment.

    A particularly wacky variant involves testing the patient’s *blood* in this way, and some are even willing to diagnose by mail — you bleed onto a bit of blotting paper, send it to them, and they send you your diagnosis back.

    There are also variants involving radio waves and the Internet — yes, even ones where you can be tested and diagnosed by e-mail, as absurd as that sounds for something that’s supposed to be testing your physical body.

  9. windriven says:

    @Ed Whitney

    Duh. Who are you going to believe: lithesome Gwyneth Paltrow or some guy in a lab smock with tape on the bridge of his glasses?

  10. aeauooo says:

    Despite the efforts of antivaccinationists, HPV immunization rates in teens are increasing.

    “Increases in vaccination rates for human papillomavirus (HPV) are trailing increases in rates for two other vaccines recommended for teens and preteens, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

  11. Ed Whitney says:

    @ windriven:

    I was told that Ms. Paltrow plays the index case of the epidemic, dying a horrible death from its effects, so believing her or not believing her has little bearing on the case. But I will believe the voluptuous Kate Winslet as the virologist/epidemiologist no matter what she says. The current issue of Science has an interview with Ian Lipkin of Columbia University, who was a consultant for the film. He taught Ms. Winslet to use a pipette and run an agarose gel. Lucky bastard.

    Contagion starts tomorrow, two days before the 9/11 anniversary. Pure coincidence of course.

  12. Draal says:

    Cap’n nitpicky here:

    Dr. G, the reason why the link to “SANE Vax Inc. Discovers Potential Bio-hazard Contaminant in Merck’s Gardasil™ HPV 4 Vaccine” doesn’t work from this blog is because the link is incorrect.
    You have it as:

    sanevax [dot] org/sane-vax-inc-discovers-potential-bio-hazard-contaminant-in-merck%27s-gardasil%E2%84%A2-hpv-4-vaccine/

    when it should be:

    sanevax [dot] org/sane-vax-inc-discovers-potential-bio-hazard-contaminant-in-merck%E2%80%99s-gardasil%E2%84%A2-hpv-4-vaccine/

  13. On Contagion. When avian flu was in the news, I stocked up on canned goods…which are still stored in the basement (baked beans anyone?). I never did come up with a good way to store water…a little foresight and a couple of bathtubs will have to do.

    Although not a germaphobe, I have a thing about pandemics. This might have something to do with my re-accuring post-apocalyptical dreams (sometime I have post apocalyse dreams where I’m back in college and realize that I have an exam I haven’t studies..)

    I won’t be seeing Contagion, maybe I’ll spend the money on restocking the basement pantry.

    Even then, I suspect that I’m still more sane then Sane Inc.

  14. JPZ says:


    “(sometime I have post apocalyse dreams where I’m back in college and realize that I have an exam I haven’t studies..)”

    Isn’t that pre-apocalyptic? ;)

  15. Draal says:

    “AND… how is rDNA not “natural”. DNA is DNA…it will behave as DNA does regardless of how it was made.”

    This isn’t what they meant but where the DNA has been makes a small difference. DNA is often modified in vivo (e.g. methylation, phosphorothioation). Artificially produced DNA (PCR) does not contain these modifications. However, once the recombinant DNA enters a cell, it will be either targeted for degradation (defense mechanism against foreign DNA) or subsequently modified and become indistinguishable from ‘naturally produced’ DNA.

  16. @JPZ – Dual apocalyptic? apparently in my sub-conscious even the apocalypse can’t eradicate math exams.

  17. ConspicuousCarl says:

    SANE Vax Inc presents…
    “the proprietary processes and information utilized by our laboratory to test the samples.”

    This appeal to secret knowledge calls for the Dan Dennett response…

    “Lucille Says You’re Wrong.”

    Who is Lucille?

    “Someone I know. She’s always right.”

    So much for the SANEvax proprietary process. Lucille says it’s wrong.

  18. Khym Chanur says:

    ‘hereditary load’ such as amalgam dental fillings of one’s grandfather.

    What, seriously? Mercury poisoning from your grandfather?

  19. tmac57 says:

    Since SANE likes to toss around scary statistics,I thought that I would present these from the CDC:

    “In 2007 (the most recent year numbers are available)—

    12,280 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer.*2
    4,021 women in the United States died from cervical cancer.*2″

    Sadly….one of those “statistics”… in Feb 2010 included my lovely wife of 26 years.

    Needless to say my 18 year old granddaughter has had the HPV vaccine.

    I do not have words strong enough, for the contempt that I feel for these fear mongers.

  20. Chris says:

    I am so sorry for your loss tmac57. I understand your contempt (I have the same for nutritionist loons who say blood pressure can be treated with diet, except it does not quite work for the abnormal anatomy my son has due to genetic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy!).

    On the movie “Contagion”, I heard on Science Friday a couple of weeks ago that Laurie Garrett (wrote The Coming Plague, Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, which I own and have not read) was a consultant on the movie.


    This might have something to do with my re-accuring post-apocalyptical dreams (sometime I have post apocalyse dreams where I’m back in college and realize that I have an exam I haven’t studies..)

    And why is it when I have those dreams I am sitting down to a high school exam in my jammies? Yes, I graduated from college and have dropped out of grad school twice, but mine are always about high school.

    Though my last nightmare involved fighting off a giant duck that swallowed someone I know on another forum and losing. and then being stranded in an isolated compound with someone wielding a hand grenade while outside there were crazy people with machetes who were into decapitation. I didn’t get back to sleep. I wonder if it was my version of Hot Tamale Pie from my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook?

    By the way, I store water in old plastic jugs at the bottom of my chest freezer. The freezer guts cause a ledge down the length of the thirty year old box (and it still works!), so the layer of bottled frozen water brings everything level, then I use plastic milk crates to separate the foods. It was handy to have a few plastic jugs of frozen water to pull out and put in the the very expensive &^%$#! fridge after it went on the blink multiple times (and is now 3/4 rebuilt).

  21. lilady says:

    “Googling for Dr. Sin Hang Lee, and it turns out that he is rather well known in the Lyme disease community for having apparently invented a new test for Lyme disease. That may or may not be dubious. ”

    The test that Dr. Gorski is referring to is a Lyme disease serum PCR test…and I suspect it is dubious. I checked into Milford Medical Laboratory and it is a free-standing privately owned laboratory. Milford Hospital as well as Milford Medical Laboratory have issued press releases about this Lyme disease serum PCR test and apparently it is being ordered along with ELISA testing for walk in patients at the urgent care center at the hospital. The privately owned Milford Medical Laboratory will also test patients out of the area. Patients can download the form from their website and have their physicians order the test.

    Dr. Lee also notified physicians in Connecticut about the availability of the serum PCR test for Lyme disease and all the LLMDs (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors) who treat “chronic Lyme disease” as well as every crank Lyme disease support group have publicized this new Lyme disease test.

    According to the CDC and the Infectious Disease Society of America the gold standard for testing blood for Lyme disease is the two tiered ELISA then the Immuno-Blot. PCR testing is only indicated for CSF paired with serum for ELISA testing and for synovial fluid paired with serum for ELISA/immuno-blot testing. I suspect Dr. Lee will not pursue licensing and marketing of this test.

    Based on Dr. Lee’s history of the Lyme disease serum PCR test, I have some doubts about his ability to test for rDNA from the HPV vaccine in patients blood.

  22. Jan Willem Nienhuys says:

    Mercury poisoning from your grandfather?

    I can’t locate the quote anymore, unless I go through several thousand clippings where it might be sitting somewhere. When I rack my brains it may have been an ancestor (grandfather?) who worked in an industry like weaving as a manual laborer (or maybe a vegetable gardener) where supposedly mercury compounds were used. Also quite a few dentists use this method to ‘detect’ evil influences of amalgam fillings. It is not something that is claimed as a standard.

    Still another test: ‘hair analysis’

  23. stanmrak says:

    Hard to believe anyone would defend Gardasil except for the people who are profiting from it.

  24. Chris says:

    Stanmrak, obviously you did not read tmac57’s comment. Go back, read it and then apologize.

  25. JPZ says:


    I hope that was just a mistake or misread. tmac57 was very kind (and vulnerable) to share that with us.

  26. lilady says:

    “Hard to believe anyone would defend Gardasil except for the people who are profiting from it.”

    Defenders of Gardasil are the doctors and nurses who treat young people infected with the HPV which could have been prevented by Gardisil vaccine, including gynecologists who have seen the impact of multiple colposcopy exams, cone biopsies on abnormal cervical tissue and cryotherapy for cervical dysplasia. Gardasil defenders are the fertility specialists whose patients have chronic cervicitis that impairs fertility.

    Young girls who have taken the “abstinence pledge” and were denied accurate sex education and find themselves with cervical, oral and anal HPV infection would also be defenders of Gardisil.

    The 12,000 American women who are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer and who didn’t have the benefit of Gardasil vaccine would also defend Gardasil…of course the 4,000 who die each year from cervical cancer no longer have a “voice” to defend Gardasil.

    Does Stanmrak have any scientific basis to disparage Gardasil…or is it just a misanthropic viewpoint?

  27. David Gorski says:

    I think this probably says all you need to know about Stan’s “expertise” to pontificate about Gardasil:

    An excerpt:

    Among the experts I consider my “mentors” are Dr. Richard Passwater, Gary Null, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mike Adams at Natural News and Dr. Russell Blaylock, among others.

    Much of the information I’ve accumulated is available at my website at, which is one the highest-rated nutritional websites listed among the over 600 in the directory.

    I rest my case.

  28. lilady says:

    @ Dr. Gorski: I’m still LMAO with the link you provided.

    Another “gem” from Stan is this one about ORAC values:

    “blah blah blah…When it comes to antioxidant nutrition, variety counts as much as quantity. It’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods, not only for their antioxidant levels, but for their other nutritional properties as well. So don’t get hooked into the ORAC table numbers. Just eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to get most of what you need, and use supplements as extra insurance. Food especially rich in antioxidants include any type of berry, dried fruits such as prunes or raisins, dark-green leafy vegetables, and beans. There are numerous supplemental products that incorporate antioxidant-rich fruits such as acai and goji berries, or green powders such as chlorella and spirulina…yadda yadda yadda”

    Hmmm, I wonder if “our friend” ORAC knows about Stan’s website?

  29. Chris says:

    So he is a supplement shill. Cute.

  30. JPZ says:

    @David Gorski

    Thanks for that link! Here is my favorite quote from his site, “What you won’t find here are a lot of references and links to specific studies that argue in support of the information.”


    Thank you for playing Science-Based Medicine, but I think you took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. I think you meant to go here:

  31. JPZ, I think you misread Stanmrack. He is just confiding that he is so motivated by profit that it is hard for him to believe that other’s are not. I think Stanmrack has made a real breakthrough here… perhaps now he will get the help he needs.

  32. stanmrak says:

    Dr. Diane Harper was the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. She is the latest to come forward and question the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. She made the surprising announcement at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination, which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2nd through 4th, 2009. Her speech was supposed to promote the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines; but instead, she unexpectedly turned on her corporate bosses, in a very public way.

    When questioned about the presentation, audience members remarked that they came away feeling that the vaccines should not be used.

    “I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all.”

    — Joan Robinson

    Dr. Harper explained in her presentation that the cervical cancer risk in this country is already extremely low, and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any affect upon the rate of cervical cancer in the United States. In fact, 70% of all H.P.V. infections resolve themselves without treatment in a year, and the number rises to well over 90% in two years.

    Additionally, there was the safety angle. All trials of the vaccines were done on children aged 15 and above, despite them currently being recommended to, and marketed for 9-year-olds. So far, 15,037 girls have reported adverse side effects for Gardasil alone to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (V.A.E.R.S.), and that is just for the small percentage of people who went through the hassle of reporting them. So far, 44 girls are officially known to have died, needlessly, from these vaccines. The reported side effects include Guillian Barré Syndrome (paralysis lasting for years, or permanently — sometimes causing suffocation), lupus, seizures, blood clots, and brain inflammation. Parents are usually not made aware of these risks.

    Dr. Harper claimed that she was speaking out, so that she might finally be able to sleep at night.

    “About eight in every ten women who have been sexually active will have H.P.V. at some stage of their life. Normally there are no symptoms, and in 98 per cent of cases it clears itself. But in those cases where it doesn’t, and isn’t treated, it can lead to pre-cancerous cells which may develop into cervical cancer.”

    — Dr. Diane Harper

    You have to understand how the establishment’s word games are played to truly understand the meaning of the above quote. You have to understand their unique version of “science”, in other words. When they say that untreated cases “can” lead to something that “may” then lead to cervical cancer, it really means that this relationship is merely a hypothesis perpetuated by the pharmaceutical companies, and that there is no clear relationship between the condition being vaccinated for and the rare cancers that the related conditions supposedly may cause under specific and uncommon conditions. In the same vein, drinking apple juice may give a person the ability to levitate if it can alter the laws of physics. It’s not exactly what we call science. It’s F.D.A. science. By the way, the vaccine only works on 4 strains out of 40 of a specific venereal disease, so the chance of it helping any individual is about about the same as that person being struck by a meteorite.

    Why exactly do nine-year-old girls need vaccinations for extremely rare and symptom-less venereal diseases that the immune system kills anyway?

    Whether her speech will be able to change the current mass vaccination of young girls is so far unknown, but we hope so. These inoculations are little more than hype, with no safety testing for the recommended age group, and having risks that are still being discovered the hard way.

    If we had a whistle blower award, Dr. Diane Harper would easily be our winner for 2009. Thank you, Dr. Harper, for doing the right thing.

  33. Harriet Hall says:


    There is no question that the vaccine is effective. Questions about how much morbidity and mortality will be prevented if a specific population is vaccinated are a separate issue. The vaccines are clearly more important for countries where the rate of cervical cancer deaths is greater, but that doesn’t mean they are not indicated in the US. One unnecessary death is too many. Mortality is not the only consideration: HPV causes a lot of non-fatal suffering.
    VAERS accepts reports of anything that happened after vaccination; it is not a reliable source of information about whether the reported adverse effects had anything to do with the vaccine. The claim that “44 girls are officially known to have died, needlessly, from these vaccines” is false. See

  34. Chris says:

    Stanmrak, Dr. Diane Harper was not a “lead researcher” in either HPV vaccine. She was involved in the clinical trials, nothing more. Her well founded concerns about Merck’s heavy handed marking of the vaccine, plus her concerns on length of immunity (based on older data) were taken out of context. Dr. Ben Goldacre contacted her after some of her remarks were published in similar form that you just cut and pasted: ….

    The article has now disappeared from the Express website, and Professor Harper has complained to the PCC. “I fully support the HPV vaccines,” she says. “I believe that in general they are safe in most women. I told the Express all of this.”

    (thanks to Krebiozen on another blog for the lead on that article)

    Stan, taking a person’s comment out of context is a form of lying. Changing her role in the vaccines’ development and testing is also lying. In the future please post evidence in the form of actual scientific literature, and do not use any more lies.

  35. David Gorski says:

    Another aspect of Diane Harper is that she showed up to speak at the 2009 NVIC conference. That’s Barbara Loe Fisher’s anti-vaccine conference, where Andrew Wakefield was given NVIC’s Humanitarian AWard. I haven’t yet decided whether she was duped or whether she really is falling down the anti-vaccine rabbit hole, but she definitely does have a problem, if you know what I mean.

  36. pmoran says:

    One unnecessary death is too many. Mortality is not the only consideration: HPV causes a lot of non-fatal suffering

    I’ll say, but it’s invisible to most. People are happy to admit to having ordinary warts, the ones that do ‘always” do away by themselves.

    Only surgeons and other specialists get to see the misery of those with florid vulval or anal warts — not a pretty sight, difficult to cure, and destructive of some lives, through moments of indiscretion.

  37. lilady says:

    Sorry guys, you are all replying to Stan’s remarks…when in reality his last (grammatically correct beyond Stan’s capabilities) long post about Diane Harper…were written by a notorious anti-vax, anti-science blogger. Stan plagiarized in its entirety an article written by Sarah Cain on October 29, 2009.

    Sarah Cain has written extensively about vaccines and she is really one sick puppy and the darling of the anti-vax sites.

    So, in addition to Stan posting lies about what Diane Harper said, he is also a plagiarizer.

  38. David Gorski says:

    Only surgeons and other specialists get to see the misery of those with florid vulval or anal warts — not a pretty sight, difficult to cure, and destructive of some lives, through moments of indiscretion.

    True that. I still remember back in my residency using the CO2 laser to zap anal warts. Sometimes they were so florid that the laser wasn’t enough; surgical excision was needed. And the warts almost always came back.

    A miserable, miserable condition for the poor guys who had them.

  39. BillyJoe says:

    Perhaps it’s just that Stan is not familiar with the quote tags. :D

  40. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I love you guys. I love the fact that an evidence-free post is rebutted with a series of weblinks I can click on to dig up some context. I love that you don’t expect me to take your word for it, that you actually include further reading. I love that there is a combination of scientific research with appeals to common sense and morality unrecognized by antivaxxers. I love the greyness, the embracing of complication, the discussion of nuance, and when nuance isn’t required, the calling of bullshit.

    May be it’s Monday morning sleep deprivation talking, but these comments gave me a bit of a sentimental sniffle.

  41. #pmoran
    “One unnecessary death is too many. Mortality is not the only consideration: HPV causes a lot of non-fatal suffering
    I’ll say, but it’s invisible to most. People are happy to admit to having ordinary warts, the ones that do ‘always” do away by themselves.
    Only surgeons and other specialists get to see the misery of those with florid vulval or anal warts — not a pretty sight, difficult to cure, and destructive of some lives, through moments of indiscretion.”

    Forgive me for nitpicking, pmoran, but I just want to insert that HPV is not contracted from indiscretion, it is contracted from sexual contact. Sexual contact is a normal part of a healthy adult life and required for reproduction.

    In other words, HPV is not something only indiscrete people get. It is something that any normal sexually active person can get, including those in a monogamous relationship.

  42. I think I will probably get destroyed for this comment but I have to ask…

    I agree that the reasoning behind the antivaccine movement is non-existent. But, vaccines do have side effects so it is easy for people to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    A friend of mine, 23 years old, recently died from H1N1. I have not been vaccinated for it yet, but I’ve had a long history of not only bad luck in medical treatments, I also had an autoimmune disease for about ten years (corrected with surgery — so I’m definitely not against Western Medicine.) So I’ve been afraid to introduce anything to my immune system, despite the fact that I know vaccination, in general, is a good thing for the population.

    My boyfriend’s mother is a doctor. One of her patients is a quadruplegic due to a reaction from the H1N1 vaccine. Obviously these cases are rare, but how tragic! My friend dying from H1N1 is rare. So is my boyfriend’s mom’s patient. What to do? Which end of the bell curve will I be on?

    Is there any one out there doing any kind of research to develop a screening method for determining who is at risk for severe, life altering a vaccine complications? Are these cases too rare for anyone to prioritize funding something like that? Is this kind of thing even feasible from a logical standpoint? I’d like to know. It seems like it would be a worthwhile project to me, seeing as how vaccines do offer a great deal of benefit and might assuage some people’s fears of side effects if they had a few clues ahead of time into how the vaccine may affect their physiology.

  43. Harriet Hall says:

    I can’t imagine a screening method to determine who is at risk for vaccine complications. How would you even go about designing a research study? If we had a clue as to a plausible mechanism, maybe. We don’t.

    I have to ask, how was it determined that that patient’s quadriplegia was due to a reaction from the H1N1 vaccine? Such reactions have not been reported in the literature. Is it possible that the attribution was a post hoc ergo propter hoc error?

    Also have to ask, what autoimmune disease did you have? Would you mind sharing that information with us? Autoimmune diseases are not usually correctable with surgery. Patients with autoimmune diseases arguably need the protection of vaccines even more than the average person.

  44. Ulcerative colitis is what I had. I had my colon removed and have a J pouch. As far as I know, ulcerative colitis is considered an autoimmune disease. Has this changed? I don’t require medication anymore, I do not take any supplements, I eat a normal diet, and I live an active life. So, at this point in time I am functionally healthy. I don’t know what state my immune system is in, however, because I don’t understand the relationship between the presence of symptoms and the presence of disease. It confuses me.

    I do not know the details of the H1N1 paralysis case. This is third hand information. I usually trust my boyfriend’s mother, though, because she has shown to be scrutinizing and reasonable in the past. I admit that it is possible that she is wrong because I don’t know the literature and I don’t know where the initial diagnosis came from.

    I also understand that no mechanism(s) is/are known for vaccine complications. I thought of that about an hour or so after I submitted my comment that a better way to word my question would be “is any research being conducted to understand vaccine complications so as to someday develop a screening method.” In either case, I can assume from your response that the answer is no.

    For the record, I intend no hostility in my comments. I enjoy this blog and find it very educational and fascinating. I am new to medical research (I am a tech) but mostly still think like a patient. I try to be reasonable in my inquiries though, and have no intention of starting any kind of fear/belief based inflammatory debate here. I am asking what I believe to be honest questions about things I do not understand, because I want to do things for my body that are helpful. I understand why vaccines are useful and the general philosophy behind how they work. I would like to understand the history and nature of vaccine complications. Like in the lab where I work, I can easily do the techniques and not understand them, but it is always better when I understand them.

  45. Ed Whitney says:

    Michelle Bachmann, attacking Rick Perry for mandating Gardasil in girls in Texas, has announced that a mother came up to her and told her that her little girl took the vaccine and was retarded ever after. Too bad this came after the Tea Party ‘debate” last night. The teabaggers will have to decide which forms of lunacy to embrace.

  46. @Ed Whitney, Yup and Perry backpedaling on the Texas HPV vaccine mandate. Looks like the Tea Party is thinking about labeling vaccines as unamerican.

  47. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    nobodyyouknow, at least part of the “complications” for vaccines are vasomotor (i.e. syncope, or fainting). Some people react badly to puncturing the skin – I’ve seen it happen at blood donor clinics and when blood is drawn for research purposes. The rest are beyond me, sadly.

    If you’re generally interested in vaccines, I highly recommend Arthur Allen’s Vaccine: the controversial story of medicine’s greatest lifesaver (ISBN 0393059111). It goes into (along with a LOT of other stuff) the pertussis vaccine’s grant/withdrawal process which was quite interesting. The books I’ve read by Paul Offit are good as well, Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases (ISBN 006122796X) was nice because it covered multiple vaccines. If you like smallpox (and you shouldn’t), then Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox was very good, particularly because it deals with the one disease we’ve genuinely defeated with vaccines.

  48. stanmrak says:

    From the CDC website:
    How We Know Vaccines are Safe
    Vaccine safety cannot be measured directly. Instead, it is estimated by the number of “adverse events” reported.

    Of course, no one knows what percentage of “adverse events” are officially reported, but it’s likely very small.
    So much for knowing…

    It’s an insult to mothers of vaccine-injured children to assume that the doctor knows better than the mother.

  49. Harriet Hall says:

    “It’s an insult to mothers of vaccine-injured children to assume that the doctor knows better than the mother.”

    It’s an insult to scientists and doctors to assume that mothers’ anecdotes can trump scientific evidence. Mothers may know their child was “injured” after receiving a vaccine, but they can’t be sure that their interpretation that the child was injured “by” the vaccine was not a post hoc ergo propter hoc error.

  50. So that’s the equation? If mother disagrees with doctor, then doctor must be wrong?

    Sorry, as a mom, I’ve seen far to many times where moms have clearly been wrong to believe that equation. I’ll stick with whoever presents the most convincing evidence. The anti-vax crowd has not presented convincing evidence.

  51. Chris says:

    stanrmak (supplement shill):

    It’s an insult to mothers of vaccine-injured children to assume that the doctor knows better than the mother.

    And you don’t even give a second thought to the mothers of children injured by the actual diseases. I actually had some anti-vax persons tell me that it is okay for kids to get injured or killed by diseases because it is all part of “natural selection.”

  52. YouHypocrites says:

    Would you answer “YES” to any of the following questions?

    Have you ever held your child in your arms;

    1) when they have a fever?
    2) when they have night terrors?
    3) when beads of perspiration covers their tiny bodies?
    4) when they bash their heads on the floor for no apparent reason?
    5) when they cry for no apparent reason?
    6) when they attempt self-harm?
    7) when they repeatedly hit their distended abdomen?
    8) when they throw fists at their head and ears?
    9) when they start to convulse and have seizures?
    10) when they are lethargic?
    11) when their “stressors” are tested to the limit and you cannot determine why they have gone from being content to being aggressive!

    Vaccine-injured children do exist! Don’t ignore them!

    Will this comment be posted as you all “brag” that this is a well-balanced website?

  53. Chris says:

    YouHypocrites, I have done most of those things. There was quite a bit of lethargy and fevers during the time he had chicken pox, and lack of oxygen when he had croup. Except I called 911 when he had seizures due to a now vaccine preventable disease. He is still permanently disabled, and often does stimming.

    Vaccine-injured children do exist! Don’t ignore them!

    Except they are very few and far between. There are actually many more children that were, and are still being permanently damaged from the actual diseases.

    Since this is an article on the Gardasil vaccine that is given way past any child is actually diagnosed with autism, you’ll have to point us to the journal, title and date of the paper that describes that list of symptoms being caused by it.

    In other words, if you have any real scientific evidence that Gardasil causes more harm than cancer from human papillomavirus, then please present it. If you have any real evidence that vaccines of any sort cause the injuries you specified greater than the permanent disabilities or death caused by measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type B, etc.

    Balance is based on the quality of evidence given. Not all “evidence” is equal, and appeals from emotion are not real evidence.

  54. Chris says:

    Actually the hypocrites are the ones who deny the harm caused by the actual diseases. Somehow thinking certain children are more susceptible to the vaccines, yet in the next sentence declaring that getting the actual diseases are beneficial.

    Now, really, if a child is damaged by a weakened form of a microbe, how is getting a full force of infection beneficial?

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