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  is an attempted replication of the Nataf paper  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”
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, reports low creatinine levels in PDD:
a significant decrease in urinary creatinine concentration was found in the PDD group compared to controls using a Mannâ€“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:
“”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 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
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 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.
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.