Lisa Sykes and Paul King: CoMed with a silent ‘y’

17 Apr

One of the more extreme quackery groups formed post-EoH is CoMed (the ‘y’ is silent) which is run by the Rev Lisa Sykes and Dr Paul King recently emailed a large group of people with a PDF Press Release that tried to make the case that autistic children were proven to be clinically mercury poisoned.

How did they reach this earth shattering conclusion? By stating that two papers and one methodology backed them up. Have a read of the document – its a fascinating example of how the militia attempt to ‘spin’ the reality of the situation and try to make things sounds like a given. Note the silent switch about halfway through from talking about ‘mercury’ in general to talking about ‘vaccines’ in particular.

Anyway, Sykes and King were good enough to note only post this press release on EoH but also to tell the group exactly who they had emailed – a motely crew, ranging from fellow whacko’s like David Ayoub to Governer Arnie “I’ll be back” Schwarzenegger, plus a host of journalists, lawyers etc.

So, I thought I’d better put these poor people straight and consequently sent them a letter. This is what I sent them:

Dear Madams and Sirs,

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the unsolicited email. I hope it is not intrusive.

I wanted to write to you as you were the recipients of a recent email/PDF press release from the group ComEd regarding their belief that ‘Autistic Children Clinically Proven Mercury Poisoning’. I wanted to offer an alternative to this erroneous belief. I will cite any references I make and I promise to keep this brief.

The ComEd press release uses two studies[1,2] and a technique as the ‘mainstay’ of its certainty that autistic children are clinically proven to be mercury poisoned.

The Geier paper [1] is an attempted replication of the Nataf paper [2] and suffers from its same substantial drawbacks.

Issue one: The role of precoproporphyrin.

Nataf et al claim that the presence of elevated precoproporphyrin is a specific indicator of mercury toxicity. They do this on the basis of three studies produced by one author[3,4,5]. When these studies are read properly, if we ask the question “Does exposure to heavy metals cause a relative elevation for certain porphyrin compounds in urine?” the answer would appear to be “Yes.” However, If we ask the question “Is the presence of certain urinary porphyrin compounds a specific indicator of heavy metal toxicity?” the answer would have to be “No”[6]

The Woods papers are interesting but far from conclusive enough for the Nataf and consequently Geier papers to reply on.

Issue two: Creatinine and the subsequent UPPA technique

In their press release ComEd claim that the UPPA (urinary porphyrin profile analysis) technique is a ‘highly accurate’ method of determining toxicity. Indeed, it is the method used by the Nataf and Geier papers. In this method, the urine of children is collected and analysed for the presence of porphyrin’s. If they are elevated then QED: the children must be metal poisoned.

Except its not as simple as that. The content, volume and dilution of urine varies considerably from patient to patient. The way around this issue is to measure a secondary constant element from the urine and compare the amount of porphyrins found against the amount of this compound and express the result as a ratio. This is what Nataf, Geier and the UPPA technique does. It utilises creatinine – a constant in urine – to provide a baseline figure and thus get an accurate percentage of porphyrins.

This is a standard way of measuring compounds in urine. The only issue is found when the population in question (autistic children in this case) are known to have significantly low levels of creatinine. Obviously, this would skew the results considerably and present a false reading of elevated porphyrins.

Is there recorded instances of low creatinine in autistic kids? It seems that there might be.

“Spot urinary creatinine excretion in pervasive developmental disorders” published in Pediatrics International[7], reports low creatinine levels in PDD:

a significant decrease in urinary creatinine concentration was found in the PDD group compared to controls using a Mann–Whitney two-tailed ranks test.

Of course, this just one study. Its a good start but thats it. But maybe its interesting that the group of maverick DAN! doctors (of whom one is treating Rev Sykes of ComEd’s autistic son I believe) also find low creatinine in autistic kids[8]:

“”Creatinine is often found to be marginal in the urine of autistics, and low creatinine can skew urine analyte results to high levels. So, also take note of creatinine levels if the laboratory results include ratioing to creatinine.””

I engaged in an email exchange with Professor Richard Lathe, secondary author of the Nataf paper[2] regarding the study his group had published and I questioned him at length regarding this creatinine issue. He said:

1.There was no significant decline in urinary CRT levels in any of the autism groups, though there was a non-significant trend to a reduced level. 2. Reduced CRT, and increased porphyrin, both appear to be markers of environmental toxicity.

However, neither of these observations were reported in the published paper. Lathe described it as ‘pointless’ to publish all data. I disagreed with him citing the uncertainty over creatinine levels and he conceded:

The long and short of it is that the response of CRT to different levels of heavy metal toxicity has not been studied adequately.

Which is a troubling statement considering that his paper required CRT to be well understood and to be functioning as described in order for the science in the paper to be accurate.

Lathe also conceded that other key parts of his paper (and consequently the UPPA method) were in doubt and relied on science that had been refuted and thrown out of court when attempted to be used in private prosecution[9]

The UPPA method has been in use for some time amongst adherents to the theory that mercury poisoning (notably from vaccines) causes autism. I have found numerous emails to a private access Yahoo Group called ‘chelating2kids’ which details peoples experiences with this method. Here are just three.:

1: “A fellow listmate had her son tested twice– once over the summer which showed he had no elevated metals, and one this fall that showed he did indeed have elevated metal levels. She has sent an email to the lab asking about the differing results and has not received a response. I believe she is still trying to contact them”

2: “FWIW, my neighbor’s dad happens to be a porphyrin specialist here in Boston (believe it or not– how many of those are there??). He reviewed lots of info for me– Nataf’s paper, my son’s results that showed very elevated metals across the board– and said he would have rejected the paper for publication had he been asked to review it. He said that fecal, not urine, should be used to measure the porphyrin levels. I sent an email to the lab inquiring about this and also received no response”

3: “I just received the results of the French porphyrin test for myself and my 7 year old NT [NeuroTypical – i.e. non autistic] daughter, and the results also show severe lead and mercury toxicity. My daughters numbers are worse than my ASD son!”

In closing, I would suggest that any assurances that mercury poisoning as a causative agent of autism are even likely, let alone ‘clinically proven’ should be taken with a very large grain of salt. I would also suggest that Rev Sykes role as an anti-vaccine activist and vaccine/autism litigant[10] are taken into account when considering the validity and motives of this press release.

Thanks for listening. My motive for writing this email is that, as parent to a severely autistic seven year old girl, I am sick to death of hearing bad science and media-driven misrepresentations attempt to coerce from autistic people what they truly need – decent, peer reviewed science which lead to good educational interventions for all autistic people. Thanks again.

References

[1]PubMed
[2]PubMed
[3]PubMed
[4]PubMed
[5]PubMed
[6]NotMercury
[7]Ingenta
[8]Google Cache of DAN! site
[9]Me
[10]Neurodiversity.com

I’ve had a number of fascinating responses, but my far and away favourite response was:

thank you for your email it has made it easier to apply you to my junk filter even though the junk file is far to good for the likes of you sir.

Which I received from one David Ayoub MD. The same man I publicly challenged to a web based debate less than two weeks ago on a third party letters page and who backed down.

Update: 18th April 2007

Dr King of CoMed produced a response to my rebuttal. You can read that here. and I couldn’t resist one more frolic through the CoMedy logic,as you can read here.

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27 Responses to “Lisa Sykes and Paul King: CoMed with a silent ‘y’”

  1. bethduckie April 17, 2007 at 14:08 #

    I chatted to Aline-Wendy Dunlop recently, (or rather I had a bit of a rant in her direction- oops) about biomedical research gobbling funds that could go into actually benefitting the lives of autistics. Some of her colleagues are doing biomed. research. She said she saw what I was saying, but it was what parents were clamouring for, so…??

    Fact is, some parents dont want to hear reasoned arguments. They’d rather float about in a sea of woo.

    But yeah, it all takes money (and attention, etc..) away from my kid’s quality of life, and I have to say I’m sick to death of it as well.

    Now… these ‘fascinating’ responses… good? bad? *grin*

  2. daedalus2u April 17, 2007 at 15:19 #

    Kev, the link to the pdf press release doesn’t work.

  3. Kev April 17, 2007 at 15:21 #

    Ta – fixed now :o)

  4. notmercury April 17, 2007 at 16:14 #

    Well done Kevin and thanks for linking.

  5. qchan63 April 17, 2007 at 18:04 #

    “far to good for the likes of you sir …”

    Why does David Ayoub speak like Snidely Whiplash?

  6. Ayoub of the Illuminati April 17, 2007 at 18:10 #

    Little known fact: “Ayoub” means “dolt” or “boob” in Illuminati speak.

  7. Ms. Clark April 17, 2007 at 19:05 #

    Did the governator respond? 🙂 I hope people are clicking on the link to the photo of Dr. Paul King. Here he is in case you missed him.

    !http://farm1.static.flickr.com/211/463136193_323d4f4dbf_o.jpg!

    CoMed, not to be confused with ComED (Commonwealth Edison)
    http://www.chicagoarchitecture.info/Building/1134/ComEd_Power_Station.php

  8. clone3g April 17, 2007 at 21:35 #

    Buoya!

    Nothing more empowering than three empty mic clips at a press conference. And the three that are visible? Nothing a news channel would use. Erik probably owns the Shure 57 and someone left their pocket digital recorder on the podium. That’s coverage.

    King is so important he has to leave his cellphone headset hanging from his ear. What’s that HQ? Change fonts again? Roger that.

  9. livsparents April 17, 2007 at 22:23 #

    My wife sent me the COMED email all excited about the ‘proof’ that it is mercury poisoning. I did not attack the study itself, but the people behind it and the conclusions they were drawing from it. Something like “most saw elevated levels of metals in the urine therefore all (I have to be kind i think they said most) autism is mercury poisoning”.
    ****Beware, opinion forthcoming****
    It’s a shame that they always leap to these stretches of the imagination, because there could be valid research needed. But as soon as they start jumping to illogical conclusions, their ideas just get blown right out of the water…

  10. Kev April 18, 2007 at 00:09 #

    You can tell her that Richard Lathe – the co-author of the study that spawned both the Geier study and the UPPA doesn’t think mercury plays a role. He mentions this in his book which is a follow up to the study.

  11. Kev April 18, 2007 at 10:54 #

    The plot thickens – see the update at the end of my post.

  12. Brian Deer April 18, 2007 at 11:47 #

    Yeah, it’s all just a lawsuit. MMR – thimerosal, it’s all the same how it works.

    In the UK, the government, perfectly responsibly, recalls an early MMR, which caused a slight rise in cases of meningitis (with no long-term damage to the sufferers), and is immediately hit with a lawsuit.

    In the US, the government, perfectly responsibly, tracks the EPA’s concerns about mercury through to vaccines, announces plans to phase out thimerosal, and is immediately hit with a lawsuit.

    There ain’t nothing behind either than the lawsuits. They are the alpha and the omega.

    I think – but obviously can’t prove the negative – that I know of every case of alleged MMR damage that has appeared in British media. To the best of my abiity to determine such things, every single one of them was a lawyer’s client before their appearance.

    I’d be surprised if there were half a dozen people complaining about thimerosal in the entire United States who isn’t either turning a buck off this thing, or hoping to.

  13. Phil April 18, 2007 at 12:34 #

    What makes me laugh above all else is that his response to you, Kev, is 12 PAGES LONG! Obviously he’s trying to hide the fact that Geier is a quack under the sheer volume of words!

    Amongst other excuses!

    Or he’s a closet Aspie and is too afraid to admit it!

  14. TheProbe April 18, 2007 at 13:38 #

    I could not agree with bethduckie more. It is time for all un-wooed parents to begin clamoring for funds to be used on quality of education and quality of life issues, instead of flushing the funds down the toilet on biomed.

    There are TOO MANY SILENT PARENTS.

  15. livsparents April 19, 2007 at 01:56 #

    I caught a spelling error THEY missed! Did you feel like you were being graded by a high school english teacher?

  16. livsparents April 19, 2007 at 02:21 #

    You spelled ‘color’ wrong in you reply as well…

    So, you’re a shill for pharma and they’re money grubbing thimeresol chasers…

    May God have mercy on your souls…

  17. Ms. Clark April 19, 2007 at 03:08 #

    Bill,

    you left the “r” off of “your”. I for one nevour make typos like that. 😎

    I was listening to the IOM give the mercury parents a soap box today (ugh) it was funny when a professor from somewhere pronounced thimerosal (thiomersal, thimerasol…) as thim-ISS-erol. That’s one I haven’t heard before, but there’s a huge list of alternate spellings, all acceptable (where’s Sue M?) and maybe thimiserol is one of them….

    None of the non-mercury parents were given chance to speak, not surprising. If they were there they were probably afraid of being mobbed by Lenny and the rest who were supposed to be there.

  18. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 12:07 #

    I think *you* spelled “colour” wrong Bill, Kevin & I seem to know how to spell it 😉

  19. Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay April 19, 2007 at 12:35 #

    I am amused.

    In American English, COLOUR gets COLORED, LABOUR gets LABORED.
    And BEHAVIOUR gets BEHAVIOR-ED.
    But either way they sound the same.
    Its like a son wanting to show his father how independent he is and yet not wanting to let go of the parental name.

    Regards
    Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

  20. Ms. Clark April 19, 2007 at 14:46 #

    American’s are pretty heavy duty with their “r” pronunciations, so they are more likely to say, “color” where you hear the “R,” and the English, I think are more likely to say something like “culloh.” Kev’s accent is particularly snobbish. 😀

    He might write “colour” but he’s thinking “culloh”.

    You can hear Kev talking all uppity dropping his R’s and everything here:
    http://www.autismpodcast.org/show_notes/43-kevin_leitch.html

    I can’t recommend all of the autismpodcast.org podcasts, (some are interviews that contain lots of bad information) but that one is good.

    Michelle Dawson writes about behaviourism. I write about behaviorism. I think I’m right in this. If Michelle and jypsy will mend their ways I will send them each a bag of m&m’s.

  21. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 16:29 #

    I do not drop my “r”s! Kev might but we Canadians know how to speak and spell correctly. Eh…

  22. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 16:31 #

    and yes, we write about behaviour but not about our neighbours (that would be gossip!)and we labour with spell checks that want up to spell Americanly..

  23. Kev April 19, 2007 at 16:40 #

    Snobbish????

    ;o)

    Blimey, I feel a bit pleased with that – normally I get called common as muck ;o)

  24. Broken Link April 19, 2007 at 23:11 #

    Kev, we think of you as top-drawer. No matter your accent 😉

  25. notmercury April 19, 2007 at 23:53 #

    Damn foreigners.

  26. Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay April 20, 2007 at 02:22 #

    Mother and I have applied for our green cards.
    We had to be re-vaccinated for that.
    ‘Wonder whether the additional mercury would harm me more.
    Well its done. And its been a year and a half now.

    The INS laws are rigid.

    Regards
    Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

  27. Kev April 20, 2007 at 08:09 #

    NM – surely you meant (place plum in mouth) ‘I say, damn those dashed foreigners’ (remove plum).

    Thank you BL 🙂

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