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A Risk in Cholesterol Drugs Is Detected, but Is It Real?
WSJ ^ | 7-3-07 | Avery Johnson

Posted on 07/03/2007 3:00:09 PM PDT by Dysart

As he examined data on a computer one day last fall, drug-safety reviewer Ralph Edwards saw something that concerned him: Of 172 people in his database who developed Lou Gehrig's disease or something similar while taking prescription medicines, 40 had been on statins, the huge-selling cholesterol drugs.

Dr. Edwards, director of the World Health Organization's drug-monitoring center, has amassed about four million reports of medical problems experienced by people taking prescription drugs. His job is to sift through these so-called adverse events, looking for "signals" of potential side effects.

The number of Lou Gehrig's cases associated with statins struck Dr. ...

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: als; health; statins
This is a little disconcerting and definitely needs more research.
1 posted on 07/03/2007 3:00:12 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

Disconcerting to you perhaps but there are trial lawyers like Edwards who have just been presented a potential gold mine.


2 posted on 07/03/2007 3:03:02 PM PDT by spald
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To: Dysart
There is a lot of info about these drugs and liver disease. Stay off the joy juice if you take them or you might be taking the ultimate cholesterol treatment.
3 posted on 07/03/2007 3:04:58 PM PDT by bybybill (HUNT RINOS IN THE PRIMARIES, SKIN RATS IN THE FALL)
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To: Dysart
Why do the “All American Wieners” think their life should be perfect with no risk what so ever? I suggest these people move to never never land where the two neurons represent the total sum of their brain power have gone.

Articles like these are the reason the dope heads with communication degrees from big ten schools like PSU have jobs; the only other jobs they would be capable of holding down are those in Mexico, doing the jobs Mexicans don’t want to do!

4 posted on 07/03/2007 3:08:31 PM PDT by Herakles (Diversity is code word for anti-white racism)
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To: bybybill

Yeah, I understand that perilous mixture— gave up the firewater quite some time ago. No drug is without some risks, but I estimate the benefits outweigh the risks with this drug, esp at low doses.


5 posted on 07/03/2007 3:13:17 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart
"This is a little disconcerting and definitely needs more research."

Sure does. The drug testing protocols have experienced past problems.

6 posted on 07/03/2007 3:16:34 PM PDT by ex-snook ("But above all things, truth beareth away the victory.")
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To: spald

Who knows, there could be a cure for cancer out there that isn’t being released because of the potential for lawsuits. Nothing in life can be completely safe (even staying in bed can cause bed sores), but the John Edwards of the world are determined to keep us in the dark ages (for a profit).


7 posted on 07/03/2007 3:19:34 PM PDT by scan59 (Let consumers dictate market policies. Government just gets in the way.)
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To: Dysart

If you have the data on what drugs people take, and what diseases they contract, a computer should be able to pop up any statistical correlations fairly quickly. That is only the beginning, however, as much more investigation would be required.


8 posted on 07/03/2007 3:20:04 PM PDT by csn vinnie
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To: Dysart
If You Want To Feel Younger, Forget Your Statins
9 posted on 07/03/2007 3:20:19 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Dysart

Sheesh!

Last panel: LDL 72, HDL 52, TC 160.

Down from heart attack threatening levels.

Ain’t much one can do that doesn’t carry some risk. But my statins? FMCDH!


10 posted on 07/03/2007 3:22:47 PM PDT by Ole Okie
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To: ex-snook; y'all
The full article goes on to suggest(per one researcher)that if you begin to experience any ALS-like symptoms while on a statin, you might want to stop taking it because there is some evidence that the disease process could be halted or delayed if caught early.
11 posted on 07/03/2007 3:31:23 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

BTTT!


12 posted on 07/03/2007 3:35:14 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: Ole Okie
Yes, you do have to view in context that statins probably prevent many deaths from heart attacks—the leading killer-- against the potential of contracting a still very rare disease in ALS from the use of statins.
13 posted on 07/03/2007 3:36:06 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Herakles
Why do the “All American Wieners” think their life should be perfect with no risk what so ever?

How did you conclude that from this article?

14 posted on 07/03/2007 3:39:08 PM PDT by Glenn (Free Venezuela!)
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To: blam
Thanks for the link which I missed. The truth is that I go back and forth in my position on statins. Not normally a trait of mine, btw. I have compromised for the time being and am taking my Lipitor every other night, rather than every night. My doctor doesn’t even know of my regimen and my bloodwork has been excellent, fwiw.
15 posted on 07/03/2007 3:43:14 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

From the Mayo Clinic web site:

There is no evidence of a link between statins and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a serious degenerative neurological disorder that is due to disease and death of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscles. ALS may begin with muscle twitching, weakness in an arm or leg, or changes in speech (dysarthria). Eventually, it affects the ability to control the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe.

Statins are medications prescribed for the treatment of high cholesterol. These medications can sometimes cause muscle pain (myalgia), muscle weakness and rarely severe muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). But these occur as a result of direct muscle damage, not damage to nerve cells.


16 posted on 07/03/2007 3:51:07 PM PDT by Eva (I)
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To: spald
Disconcerting to you perhaps but there are trial lawyers like Edwards who have just been presented a potential gold mine.

In this particular instance it may be justified. I have been saying for year that when the statin issue explodes, it will be bigger than thalidomide, the Schiley Heart Valve, and everything since.

The cholesterol goalposts keep being moved downward. Billions and billions are at stake. Ideally, _everyone_ should take them, according to the manufacturer-backed researchers. Try to get follow-on funding if you find otherwise.

There is nothing altruistic about these compounds.

In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a ban on the sale of dietary supplements derived from red yeast rice, which naturally contains lovastatin, arguing that products containing prescription agents require drug approval.

Now the door was open for patenting and mass marketing.

I and my wife have first hand experience with side effects that are serious, and references to these keep popping up everywhere.

Something is wrong here. And even if it takes the Silk Pony to do it, someday there will be a lot of stockholders in these manufacturers leaping from windows, and companies are going to be held accountable.

17 posted on 07/03/2007 3:57:50 PM PDT by Gorzaloon (Global Warming: A New Kind Of Scientology for the Rest Of Us.)
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To: Dysart
It is very likely that the Statin class agents accelerated the symptomatic awareness of the ALS presentation. Statins not uncommonly cause a mild general paresis. This is not usually a problem unless something else is going on.

A person may well have ALS for years prior to it becoming clinically obvious. The interval to awareness may be accelerated by the statin, but not likely the ALS itself.

I have observed this correlation in persons already known to have ALS. If put on a statin, the symptoms were clearly magnified. If the statins removed, the symptoms revert to their prior baseline.

I suspect this correlation is what is being demonstrated in the researcher's statistics.

18 posted on 07/03/2007 3:59:37 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: bybybill
"There is a lot of info about these drugs and liver disease."

I was taking Lipitor but it was causing my liver enzymes to run amok. I don't drink alcoholic beverages because I'm also diabetic and take thyroid and hypertension medications. Since I've been off the Lipitor, they've checked my liver function on two separate occasions and they were normal both times. And fortunately, I've been able to keep my cholesterol level within normal range by just watching what I eat.

19 posted on 07/03/2007 4:05:17 PM PDT by mass55th (Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway~~John Wayne)
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To: HangnJudge
I have observed this correlation in persons already known to have ALS. If put on a statin, the symptoms were clearly magnified. If the statins removed, the symptoms revert to their prior baseline. I suspect this correlation is what is being demonstrated in the researcher's statistics.

Very interesting.

20 posted on 07/03/2007 4:06:38 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Eva
Statins are medications prescribed for the treatment of high cholesterol. These medications can sometimes cause muscle pain (myalgia), muscle weakness and rarely severe muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). But these occur as a result of direct muscle damage, not damage to nerve cells.

What about the common side effect of peripheral neuropathy?

There is too much money involved in these products to blindly trust anyone.

Whether one chooses to use Intelligent Design or Evolution, the point is those metabolic pathways that are casually being switched off exist for many reasons essential to all animal life. Trashing aminotransferase levels and switching off cholesterol synthesis is a pretty radical substitute for a sane diet and exrcise. Yes, many people have a gentic predisposition for high serum cholesterol. My sister is a health nut/gym rat and basically eats lettuce(!) and has elevated cholesterols. Is she gonna die? Maybe in the next Marathon? I doubt it.

"200 mg/dL"..Stock soars. "Ooops..we meant 160mg/dL!!" Stock declares dividends, splits, soars.

21 posted on 07/03/2007 4:13:42 PM PDT by Gorzaloon (Global Warming: A New Kind Of Scientology for the Rest Of Us.)
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To: Dysart
Very interesting.

I should demonstrate my credentials at this point
Clinical Neurologist with ~21 years experience
Board certified in both Neurology and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

I distrust the statins, from the standpoint of their effect on muscles and peripheral nerves, but I see no scientific basis in their involvement directly in the Upper Motor Neuron involvement in ALS. The science is wrong...

22 posted on 07/03/2007 4:17:05 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: scan59

“Nothing in life can be completely safe (even staying in bed can cause bed sores)”

Yes, but these meds are not solving the problem they were intended to solve. The studies show that the real reason why there are statistically fewer heart attacks by people on statins is because of their ability to thin the blood.

There’s lots of safer ways to do that than taking a statin with tons of nasty side effects.


23 posted on 07/03/2007 4:19:47 PM PDT by webstersII
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To: Ole Okie

You might want to read some actual studies about the usefulness of taking statins to prevent heart attacks. You are putting your trust in something that isn’t very effective.


24 posted on 07/03/2007 4:21:53 PM PDT by webstersII
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To: HangnJudge
"Statins not uncommonly cause a mild general paresis. This is not usually a problem unless something else is going on."

Definition of General paresis

General paresis: Progressive dementia and generalized paralysis due to chronic inflammation of the covering and substance of the brain (meningoencephalitis). General paresis is a part of late (tertiary) syphilis, occurring a decade or more after the initial infection

25 posted on 07/03/2007 4:40:59 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: HangnJudge
I appreciate your unique input on the subject. As I’ve debated the use of satins over the last few yrs, I’ve always maintained that I would discontinue them if I detected any unusual symptoms that could possibly be attributed to the drug. So far, so good.
26 posted on 07/03/2007 4:41:38 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Gorzaloon

My daughter is the same way, an former elite, an American record holder, who didn’t eat red meat, but she had high cholesterol.

I think that it is a matter of semantics. They have something that mimics the symptoms of ALS, that they are calling sporadic ALS. What the Mayo Clinic article is saying is that the symptoms might be very similar but causes of the two are different. Who knows?


27 posted on 07/03/2007 4:43:08 PM PDT by Eva (I)
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To: Dysart

Book Mark


28 posted on 07/03/2007 5:13:18 PM PDT by Cold Heart
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To: HangnJudge
I distrust the statins, from the standpoint of their effect on muscles and peripheral nerves, but I see no scientific basis in their involvement directly in the Upper Motor Neuron involvement in ALS. The science is wrong...

What is your perspective on the peripheral neuropathy? I took Lovastatin so long that I had forgotten ever reading the cautions, so when my hands and arms weakened and my feet burned I was stumped, and my doctor (Endocrinology) was scratching his head for a short while. (I respected him-He remembered the infernal metabolic pathways chart!) After discontinuing the statin the symptoms faded in a few weeks.

There are some structures that need a lot of cholesterol and triglicerides. Could aggressive reduction of them could produce Demyelination? If so, it could explain the symptoms.

The onset was slow, and insidious.

My "Why fix it" comments are based on a three-generation record of zero cardiovascular deaths, despite familial hypercholestemia and hyperlipemia.

29 posted on 07/03/2007 5:14:53 PM PDT by Gorzaloon (Global Warming: A New Kind Of Scientology for the Rest Of Us.)
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To: Gorzaloon
My "Why fix it" comments are based on a three-generation record of zero cardiovascular deaths, despite familial hypercholestemia and hyperlipemia

I have a very similar familial history which complicates my decision matrix. Almost all of my known relatives lived into their late 80's and 90's and none of them died of cardio-related problems. I know that my father and likely his father had elevated lipids. Go figure.

30 posted on 07/03/2007 5:23:31 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart; HangnJudge
I keep refusing to take the Statins and my doctor never ceases to try and push me into doing so. He says my high Colesterol is genetic. I tell him that if it's genetic then I'm in good shape, because all of forbears lived to a ripe old age without stroke or heart disease. Why on earth should I take something that would make me feel bad when I feel great and am very very active for a 73 yr. old? It makes no sense.

With this caution concerning ALS I would be even more reluctent to take them. I already have Dystonia of facial/eye muscles. I sure don't need anything to make that worse. BOTOX does a pretty good job of control. Yes, BOTOX is really used to actually "help" people , not just cosmetic.

31 posted on 07/03/2007 5:45:44 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: Gorzaloon
General point
virtually all agents that are hepatotoxic are also myotoxic and neurotoxic,.

one reference,
http://www.springerlink.com/content/7871uvlbme4ytygf/

Within the past 3 years seven cases of reversible peripheral neuropathy apparently caused by statins have been reported. Here we report seven additional cases associated with long-term statin therapy, in which other causes of neuropathy were thoroughly excluded. The neuropathy was in all cases axonal and with affection of both thick and thin nerve fibers. The symptoms of neuropathy persisted during an observation period lasting from 10 weeks to 1 year in four cases after statin treatment had been withdrawn. We suggest that long-term statin treatment may be associated with chronic peripheral neuropathy.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15460180&dopt=Citation
Various pharmacologic agents are available for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, including 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, commonly referred to as statins, which offer favorable lipid-lowering effects and reductions in morbidity and mortality. Statins are usually better tolerated than other lipid-lowering agents and therefore have become a mainstay of treatment for hypercholesterolemia. However, recent case reports of peripheral neuropathy in patients treated with statins may have gone unnoticed by health care professionals. To evaluate the possible link between statins and peripheral neuropathy, literature searches using MEDLINE (January 1993—November 2003) and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (January 1970—June 2002) were performed. Key search terms were statin, neuropathy, and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Based on epidemiologic studies as well as case reports, a risk of peripheral neuropathy associated with statin use may exist; however, the risk appears to be minimal. On the other hand, the benefits of statins are firmly established. These findings should alert prescribers to a potential risk of peripheral neuropathy in patients receiving any of the statins; that is, statins should be considered the cause of peripheral neuropathy when other etiologies have been excluded.

Other references are available

I have observed a correlation between Statin use and unexplained peripheral neuropathy in my clinical practice. Obviously, my statistical base is weak, but the correlation is sufficiently strong to at least consider a causal relationship.

32 posted on 07/03/2007 6:27:11 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: webstersII

“Yes, but these meds are not solving the problem they were intended to solve.”

There has yet to be a definitive study that demonstrates that lowering cholesterol actually prevents heart disease or heart attacks.

That is why none of these medications are allowed to be labeled as “reduce the risk of heart disease”.

There is simply no proof that the statins work to actually reduce deaths from heart disease.


33 posted on 07/03/2007 7:16:28 PM PDT by EEDUDE
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To: Dysart
TGA is suspect also. Anyone experience this?
Transient Global Amnesia - TIA symptoms, short term memory problems, usually lasts 2-8 hours. I just had 4th incident since 1999. After the first incident, I was told it wasn’t likely to happen again. Here is an interesting website I came across linking statins to TGA: http://www.spacedoc.net/
Happy 4th Freepers!
34 posted on 07/03/2007 7:56:28 PM PDT by Sharizona
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To: Glenn
“How did you conclude that from this article?”

Easy, there is something wrong with a drug and oh, my god, the drug helping increase the lives of many is, guess what, suspected of causing some side effect; andddd the wieners in my generation weren’t told that it was not perfect and they may not live forever now they are getting into their 60s and it has to be someone’s fault, not theirs , because they wanted to live forever like their momies said they would and they have taken a drug, that may have a side effect, and oh, my god, they may not live forever, and it wasn’t even their fault, it was the drug, or the drug company, or the government, or someone but not them.

Articles like these are soooo ridiculous!

Get the picture. I know my generation well and have watched them with their greedy, self centered, self absorbed, game playing lives and everyone of them (at least 99.999%) is to stupid to come up with a medication on their own or even realize that everything has a probability of being harmful or fatal or whatever.

So now they will probably want these drugs band because they are stupid.

I’m pretty well convinced that this planet and particularly this country would have been better off if the parents of the children in my generation would have put them in a bag when they were young and dropped them off a bridge. I was to valuable when I was young; I was digging coal and helping out my parents and being thankful that I didn’t get sick because when you went to the hospital, you usually didn’t come home. And they are worried about the side effect of a drug that my parents never had the chance to have and which would have probably saved their life -— Sheee, cut me a break!

35 posted on 07/03/2007 11:47:01 PM PDT by Herakles (Diversity is code word for anti-white racism)
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To: HangnJudge
I have observed a correlation between Statin use and unexplained peripheral neuropathy in my clinical practice. Obviously, my statistical base is weak, but the correlation is sufficiently strong to at least consider a causal relationship.

Thank you for the references. Yes, your individual statistical base may be weak, but I suspect there are thousands of individual "weak" statistical bases, that, should they ever be compiled, would be damning.

Actuarily, statins do prevent cardivacular events, but the patients do not live a day longer as a class. They seem to die of something else, instead.

There are also Quality of Life issues, such as short-term memory impairment, observed by other posters here, as well as by myself that implies some causality. We just have real life observations of no statistical import. Yet.

I worked in Research for forty years, and have a lot of peer reviewed publications-I know the rules. There is no motive or funding available to compile and integrate these observations or spotty statistics at present. No one is going to fund studies that would upset a multibillion Dollar applecart.

Despite everyone's distaste and disgust at the thought, there will not be until the Tort lawyers get involved, a long time down the road when the liver cancer (for example) epidemics cut in. I do not like the looks of those molecular structures.

Add to that the growing practice of Medicine by MBA administrators who demand physicians double-book patients and prsssure them to get throughput rates similar to a Mcdonald's, and we have an overprescribing industry. This is why I personally know four physicians who have walked away from their practices.

36 posted on 07/04/2007 3:10:11 AM PDT by Gorzaloon (Global Warming: A New Kind Of Scientology for the Rest Of Us.)
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To: HangnJudge

I believe that you will find a link to Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine or Lawyers for Responsible Mediciane in most of the studies that claim a link between statins and ALS. They are both employed by PETA.

Whether the doctors or researchers actually believe what they are saying is questionable.

There was recently a doctor from Cornell who published a book on the deleterious factors involved with drinking milk. He heads the Physician’s for Responsible Medicine, a fact that was conveniently left off the reviews of the book.

Whenever you read about a questionable study that has to do with food, think PETA. They were behind the swordfish scare, the tuna scare, the ATKINS DIET attacks and probably a lot more that I can’t think of.


37 posted on 07/05/2007 10:34:48 AM PDT by Eva (I)
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To: Eva
Whenever you read about a questionable study that has to do with food, think PETA.

Thanks for the tip, heads up

38 posted on 07/05/2007 6:28:57 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: HangnJudge

I was talking to someone else on this thread about our athletic daughters (mine was an American record holder) who were on low fat, high carb diets and still had high cholesterol. Later I started thinking that the high carbs were probably interfering with the burning of fat, just like Dr. Atkins claimed. It was PETA that killed the Atkins diet. (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). PETA opposes the use of statins because they are used to lower the cholesterol from eating meat. According to PETA, a vegetarian diet will do the same thing, more naturally.


39 posted on 07/06/2007 10:04:58 AM PDT by Eva (I)
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To: Eva
Later I started thinking that the high carbs were probably interfering with the burning of fat, just like Dr. Atkins claimed

The extra carbs, not utilized, are back converted in the liver to Fat, hence the Fatty Liver in Diabetics and Alcoholics

40 posted on 07/06/2007 10:39:25 AM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Eva

Thanks for the info. Anything the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine is involved in is suspect. I read half the committee’s membership aren’t even doctors. They are an arm of the PETA, a domestic terrorist group.

Remember years ago when Oprah Winfry got into hot water over a show she did, using a PCRM expert saying meat will kill you? Turns out the guy had only a high school diploma.


41 posted on 07/06/2007 10:59:35 AM PDT by girlangler (Fish Fear Me)
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To: girlangler

Yes, but now the researches or doctors are not revealing that they are, in fact members of Physicians for Responsible Medicine. You have to dig for that information by doing a search on the name of the researcher/writer and Physicians For Responsible Medicine. They are not only publishing reports, they are publishing whole books, as in the case of the China Study.

I think that the recent terrorist doctors and all the wacko politician doctors that we see on the left are just more of the same type of doctors who work for PETA. They are all a danger to our health.


42 posted on 07/06/2007 12:48:22 PM PDT by Eva (I)
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