Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is there antifreeze in vaccines or not?

In "Toxic Myths About Vaccines," author David Gorski MD accuses anti-vaccinationists of outright lying about toxins in vaccines. He especially ridicules them for being "chemistry-challenged" on assertions regarding one particular toxin: antifreeze.
Here’s one example. The aforementioned Jenny McCarthy has been repeating that there is “antifreeze” in vaccines, as she did in the interview linked to earlier. That line is straight off of a number of antivaccination websites. (Amazingly Mr. Heckenlively managed to restrain himself from repeating “the “antifreeze in vaccines” gambit. I can only hope that it is due to intellectual honesty, although I can’t rule out the possibility that he just didn’t know about it.) One website in particular links to an MSDS about Quaker State Antifreeze/Coolant, the principal ingredients of which are ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol. Guess what? There’s no ethylene or diethylene glycol in vaccines.
Not so fast, Dr. Gorski. There IS ethylene glycol in vaccines. It's called 2-Phenoxyethanol, and is found in childhood vaccines Infanrix, Deptacel, Pediarix, and Ipol, amongst others. You see, the other name for 2-Phenoxyethanol is ETHYLENE GLYCOL monophenyl ether.

The MSDS on car antifreeze, the regular ethylene glycol, says that the lethal oral dose to kill 50% of rats is 4700 mg/kg. The MSDS on 2-Phenoxyethanol, the vaccine ethylene glycol, says the lethal oral dose to kill 50% of rats is 1260 mg/kg. Comparing apples to apples, the vaccine ethylene glycol is a lot more toxic than car antifreeze--to rats anyway.

The debate shouldn't be on whether ethylene glycol exists in vaccines. It does, period. The debate should be on whether this type of ethylene glycol and this amount of ethylene glycol can cause the same adverse reactions as those normally associated with car antifreeze.

It is a situation where both sides are bending and polarizing the truth to suit their own agendas, while parents looking for honest, straightforward, objective information are screwed. Is antifreeze in vaccines? Not exactly--not the kind we put in our cars. Aha, then antifreeze is NOT in vaccines? Not exactly--a type of ethylene glycol that is known to have similar (actually higher) levels of toxicity to car antifreeze is found in very small amounts in a number of childhood vaccines.

So word to the wise, parents. Do your own research. How do you sort it out, when both sides are liberal with the truth-bending?

1. Look for precision. Science is precise. It is not whether A is true or not true. Science defines A carefully, and then qualifies under what conditions A is true and not true. Anyone who gives you a simple "fact" is bending the truth, because reality is not simple.

2. Look for references. Someone says there is antifreeze in vaccines? What makes them say that? Someone says it is NOT in vaccines? Where all have they looked? Follow their research trail for arriving at that conclusion. (In this case, if they had looked under the right chemical names, they would have found it.)

3. Look for objectivity. Read the original research papers. Outline the "plot"--what did they do in the study? Now to tease out confirmation bias, blind yourself to the results. Switch the research findings so that the results come out the opposite of what you would like to believe. If the study finds no autism-vaccine connection, much to your relief, then pretend it did. If the study finds a strong autism-vaccine connection, as you knew it would, pretend it didn't find anything at all. Once the results are disagreeable, the flaws in the research design and methodology come leaping out like magic.

4. Trust no one but yourself. If you let other people do the thinking for you, then you'll just end up with other people's thoughts--and prejudices, and agendas. It's kind of obvious, but it needs to be said. This is what this blog is all about: think for yourself.

For further research:
Vaccine excipient table sorted by vaccine.