2015 Masters Tournament Winner, Jordan Spieth, Credits Chiropractic Care for Good Health and Peak Performance

On April 12, 2015, Jordan Spieth became the second youngest golfer to ever win the Masters Tournament. Spieth did it by tying the Masters record with 18 under par.  After his win, Spieth thanked several people including his chiropractor.

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress issued a release on May 4, 2015, with the headline above and and stated, “Following a record-breaking win at the 2015 Masters Tournament, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth recognized those who significantly contributed to his victory, including his doctor of chiropractic Troy Van Biezen, Dallas, Texas. Since the age of 14, Spieth has relied upon chiropractic care to prevent injuries as well as optimize overall health and athletic performance.”

The Star Tribune reported in an  article on April 13, 2015, that Spieth made a home video when he was just 14-years-old, stating that he would one day win the Masters. His boyhood proclamation would have to wait until he was 21 to become a reality.

In thanking his chiropractor, Spieth commented, “Dr. Van Biezen is an important member of my team and, thanks to his care, my all-time dream of winning the Masters Tournament has now become a reality.” Dr. Van Biezen currently travels full-time with Spieth and several other professional golfers, providing chiropractic care as regularly as once or twice per day. 

Dr. Van Biezen noted that 4 out of 5 golfers will experience some form of back pain from the repeated motion of the sport. Van Biezen commented on Spieth’s determination to win the Masters, “Since a very young age, Jordan has aspired to win the Masters and has since applied great discipline to achieve this goal. Many athletes, and especially golfers, understand the significance to spinal and pelvic motion to functional performance.” 

“Jordan finds that an individualized chiropractic care plan including prevention and recovery-focused techniques is essential for maintaining good health and a competitive edge,” stated Dr. Van Biezen. “Regular chiropractic care helps to alleviate back pain and greatly improve an athlete’s game.” Dr. Van Biezen, goes on to say “Back pain is the most common complaint among golfers, but isn’t the only pain experienced. Neck, shoulder, elbow and hip pain are also common complaints among golfers of all ages. Regular chiropractic care offers an effective non-pharmacologic solution for golfers seeking to rid themselves of pain and properly prepare for a successful and enjoyable game.”

Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease

Harvard Researcher Condemns Flu Vaccine
BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3037 (Published 16 May 2013)
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3037

Peter Doshi, postdoctoral fellow

The CDC pledges “To base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data, openly and objectively derived.” But Peter Doshi argues that in the case of influenza vaccinations and their marketing, this is not so

Promotion of influenza vaccines is one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies today. Twenty years ago, in 1990, 32 million doses of influenza vaccine were available in the United States. Today around 135 million doses of influenza vaccine annually enter the US market, with vaccinations administered in drug stores, supermarkets—even some drive-throughs. This enormous growth has not been fueled by popular demand but instead by a public health campaign that delivers a straightforward, who-in-their-right-mind-could-possibly-disagree message: influenza is a serious disease, we are all at risk of complications from influenza, the flu shot is virtually risk free, and vaccination saves lives. Through this lens, the lack of influenza vaccine availability for all 315 million US citizens seems to border on the unethical. Yet across the country, mandatory influenza vaccination policies have cropped up, particularly in healthcare facilities,1 precisely because not everyone wants the vaccination, and compulsion appears the only way to achieve high vaccination rates.2 Closer examination of influenza vaccine policies shows that although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality, and do not substantiate officials’ claims. The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated.

Now we are all “at risk” of serious complications

Influenza vaccine production has grown parallel to increases in the perceived need for the vaccine. In the US, the first recommendations for annual influenza vaccination were made in 1960 (table1). Through the 1990s, the key objective of this policy was to reduce excess mortality. Because most of influenza deaths occurred in the older population, vaccines were directed at this age group. But since 2000, the concept of who is “at risk” has rapidly expanded, incrementally encompassing greater swathes of the general population (box 1). As one US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) poster picturing a young couple warns: “Even healthy people can get the flu, and it can be serious.”3 Today, national guidelines call for everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated. Now we are all “at risk.”


Table 1. Expansion of influenza vaccination recommendations, 1960 to present

Population 1960 1984 1987 2000 2004 2006 2008 2009 2010
Recommendations by age                  
Adults ≥ 65 years X X X X X X X X X
Adults ≥ 50 years       X X X X X X
Children 6 to 23 months         X X X X X
Children 6 to 59 months           X X X X
Children 6 months to 18 years, if feasible             X X X
Children 6 months to 18 years               X X
Everyone ≥ 6 months                 X
Recommendations by condition or occupation                  
Pregnant women (2nd and 3rd trimester)       X X X X X X
Pregnant women (all trimesters)         X X X X X
Healthcare workers   X X X X X X X X
Household contacts of high risk groups     X X X X X X X
Household contacts and out of home
caregivers of children 0-23 months
        X X X X X
Household contacts and out of home
caregivers of children 0-59 months
          X X X X

Sources: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,5, 44-48 Osterholm,49 and Layton et al.50


Box 1. A policy without an objective

Despite the enormous sums of money spent fighting the perceived threat of influenza, there are surprisingly few instances of unambiguous statements describing the objectives of influenza vaccination policy. Here is a sampling, drawn from more than five decades of influenza vaccination policies in the United States, that demonstrates the changing purpose of the campaign—from one with a clear objective of saving older people’s lives, to one without any stated objective.

In 1964, four years after annual influenza vaccination policies were first instituted, CDC influenza branch chief Alexander Langmuir and colleagues wrote that the recommendation “was based on three broad assumptions: 1. That excess mortality was the most important consequence of epidemic influenza. 2. That polyvalent virus vaccines had been at least partially effective in preventing clinical illness during most epidemics and therefore presumably would reduce the risk of death among the aged and chronically ill. 3. That epidemics cannot be predicted with sufficient accuracy to permit confident planning of control measures on a year to year basis.”4 In 1984, recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices stated: “Because of the increasing proportion of elderly persons in the United States and because age and its associated chronic diseases are risk factors for severe influenza illness, the future toll from influenza may increase, unless control measures are used more vigorously than in the past. . . . For about 20 years, efforts to reduce the impact of influenza in the United States have been aimed primarily at immunoprophylaxis [vaccination] of persons at greatest risk of serious illness or death.”5 Today, the recommendations do not even mention the effect the policy aims to achieve.6

Box 2: Deciphering the numbers

As concern surged this January over a worse than usual influenza season, members of the media seemed unsure whether the CDC’s announcement that “vaccine effectiveness (VE) was 62%”7 represented good versus disappointing news.8

NBC anchor Brian Williams: “I worry about this number. I woke up to reports of this number. It can disincentivize people to go get that flu shot which all of you are saying is still so important.”

Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman: “And I had the same concern when you see 62%, because I’m afraid people will say ‘well, it’s half and half.’ But remember, if you have a 62% less chance of getting of getting the flu, it means less chance of being on antibiotics, less chance of ending up in an intensive care unit, and as we’ve seen from this uptick in numbers, 62% less chance of dying.”9

Although the study never tested more severe outcomes such as hospitalizations and death, the logic is nonetheless tempting: if 62% fewer people get influenza, then would not one expect 62% fewer of all of influenza’s complications? Not necessarily so. The reason is that the 62% reduction statistic almost certainly does not hold true for all subpopulations. In fact, there are good reasons to assume it does not. It is well known that influenza infections are more severe for certain groups of people, such as the frail older population, compared with others like healthy young adults. The CDC study did not present the statistics by age or health status, but an update of the study released one month later showed 90% of participants were younger than 65 years, and for older people, there was no significant benefit (vaccine effectiveness was 27%; 95% confidence interval, 31% to 59%).10

Not to worry: officials say influenza vaccines save lives

Risk of serious illness is a problem—but, according to the official narrative, a tractable problem, thanks to vaccines. As another CDC poster, this time aimed at seniors, explains: “Shots aren’t just for kids. Vaccines for adults can prevent serious diseases and even death.”11 And in its more technical guidance document, CDC musters the evidence to support its case. The agency points to two retrospective, observational studies. One, a 1995 peer-reviewed meta-analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded: “many studies confirm that influenza vaccine reduces the risks for pneumonia, hospitalization, and death in elderly persons during an influenza epidemic if the vaccine strain is identical or similar to the epidemic strain.”12 They calculated a reduction of “27% to 30% for preventing deaths from all causes”—that is, a 30% lower risk of dying from any cause, not just from influenza. CDC also cites a more recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, funded by the National Vaccine Program Office and the CDC, which found an even larger relative reduction in risk of death: 48%.13

If true, these statistics indicate that influenza vaccines can save more lives than any other single licensed medicine on the planet. Perhaps there is a reason CDC does not shout this from the rooftop: it’s too good to be true. Since at least 2005, non-CDC researchers have pointed out the seeming impossibility that influenza vaccines could be preventing 50% of all deaths from all causes when influenza is estimated to only cause around 5% of all wintertime deaths.14 15

So how could these studies—both published in high impact, peer reviewed journals and carried out by academic and government researchers with non-commercial funding—get it wrong? Consider one study the CDC does not cite, which found influenza vaccination associated with a 51% reduced odds of death in patients hospitalized with pneumonia (28 of 352 [8%] vaccinated subjects died versus 53 deaths among 352 [15%] unvaccinated control subjects).16 Although the results are similar to those of the studies CDC does cite, an unusual aspect of this study was that it focused on patients outside of the influenza season—when it is hard to imagine the vaccine could bring any benefit. And the authors, academics from Alberta, Canada, knew this: the purpose of the study was to demonstrate that the fantastic benefit they expected to and did find—and that others have found, such as the two studies that CDC cites—is simply implausible, and likely the product of the “healthy-user effect” (in this case, a propensity for healthier people to be more likely to get vaccinated than less healthy people). Others have gone on to demonstrate this bias to be present in other influenza vaccine studies.17 18 Healthy user bias threatens to render the observational studies, on which officials’ scientific case rests, not credible.

Yet for most people, and possibly most doctors, officials need only claim that vaccines save lives, and it is assumed there must be solid research behind it. But for those that bother to read the CDC’s national guidelines19—a 68 page document of 33 360 words and 552 references—one finds that the evidence cited is these observational studies that the agency itself acknowledges may be undermined by bias. The guidelines state:

“. . . studies demonstrating large reductions in hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated elderly have been conducted using medical record databases and have not measured reductions in laboratory-confirmed influenza illness. These studies have been challenged because of concerns that they have not controlled adequately for differences in the propensity for healthier persons to be more likely than less healthy persons to receive vaccination.”19

CDC does not rebut or in any other way respond to these criticisms. It simply acknowledges them, and leaves it at that.

If the observational studies cannot be trusted, what evidence is there that influenza vaccines reduce deaths of older people—the reason the policy was originally created? Virtually none. Theoretically, a randomized trial might shine some light—or even settle the matter. But there has only been one randomized trial of influenza vaccines in older people—conducted two decades ago—and it showed no mortality benefit (the trial was not powered to detect decreases in mortality or any complications of influenza). This means that influenza vaccines are approved for use in older people despite any clinical trials demonstrating a reduction in serious outcomes. Approval is instead tied to a demonstrated ability of the vaccine to induce antibody production, without any evidence that those antibodies translate into reductions in illness.

Perhaps most perplexing is officials’ lack of interest in the absence of good quality evidence. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Atlantic that it “would be unethical” to do a placebo controlled study of influenza vaccine in older people.20 The reason? Placebo recipients would be deprived of influenza vaccines—that is, the standard of care, thanks to CDC guidelines.

This is not to say influenza vaccines have no proven benefit. Many randomized controlled trials of influenza vaccines have been conducted in the healthy adult population, and a systematic review found that, depending on vaccine-virus strain match, vaccinating between 33 and 100 people resulted in one less case of influenza.21 No evidence exists, however, to show that this reduction in risk of symptomatic influenza for a specific population—here, among healthy adults—extrapolates into any reduced risk of serious complications from influenza such as hospitalizations or death in another population (complications largely occur among the frail, older population). This fact seems hard for many health commentators to grasp, who seem all too ready to take the largest statistic and apply it to all outcomes for all populations. At a press briefing this winter, CDC director Thomas Frieden said a preliminary CDC study had found “the overall vaccine effectiveness to be 62%,” He explained that this estimate of relative risk reduction: “means that if you got vaccinated you’re about 60% less likely to get the flu that requires you to go to your doctor.” On the evening news, the CDC’s message was translated into a claim that influenza vaccines will cut the risk of death by 62%, despite the fact that the CDC study did not even measure mortality (box 2). Reflecting on the same CDC study, two authors editorialized in the Journal of the American Medical Association that there exists an irrational pessimism about influenza vaccine: “A prevention measure that reduced the risk of a serious outcome by 60% in most instances would be a noted achievement; yet for influenza vaccine, it is seen as a ‘failure.’” Here, too, the authors appear unaware that the CDC study they cite did not measure any “serious outcome” like pneumonia, only medically attended acute respiratory illness with influenza confirmed by the laboratory.

Officials say influenza vaccines are safe

The CDC’s universal influenza vaccination recommendation carries the implicit message that, beyond those for whom the vaccine is contraindicated, influenza vaccine can only do good; there is no need to weigh risks against benefits. In October 2009, the US National Institutes of Health produced a promotional YouTube video featuring Fauci. Urging US citizens to get vaccinated against the H1N1 influenza, Fauci stressed the vaccine’s safety: “the track record for serious adverse events is very good. It’s very, very, very rare that you ever see anything that’s associated with the vaccine that’s a serious event.”

Months later, Australia suspended its influenza vaccination program in under five year olds after many (one in every 110 vaccinated) children had febrile convulsions after vaccination. Another serious reaction to influenza vaccines—and also unexpected—occurred in Sweden and Finland, where H1N1 influenza vaccines were associated with a spike in cases of narcolepsy among adolescents (about one in every 55 000 vaccinated). Subsequent investigations by governmental and non-governmental researchers confirmed the vaccine’s role in these serious events.22 23 24 25

Selling sickness: what’s in a name?

Drug companies have long known that to sell some products, you would have to first sell people on the disease. Early 20th century advertising for the mouthwash Listerine, for example, warned readers of the problem of “halitosis”—thereby turning bad breath into a widespread social concern.26 Similarly, in the 1950s and 1960s, Merck launched an extensive campaign to lower the diagnostic threshold for hypertension, and in doing so enlarging the market for its diuretic drug, Diuril (chlorothiazide).27 Today drug companies suggest that we have underdiagnosed epidemics of erectile dysfunction, social anxiety disorder, and female sexual dysfunction, each with their own convenient acronym and an approved medication at the ready. Could influenza—a disease known for centuries, well defined in terms of its etiology, diagnosis, and prognosis—be yet one more case of disease mongering? I think it is. But unlike most stories of selling sickness, here the salesmen are public health officials, worried little about which brand of vaccine you get so long as they can convince you to take influenza seriously.

Marketing influenza vaccines thus involves marketing influenza as a threat of great proportions. The CDC’s website explains that “Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe,” citing a death toll of “3000 to a high of about 49 000 people.” However, a far less volatile and more reassuring picture of influenza seems likely if one considers that recorded deaths from influenza declined sharply over the middle of the 20th century, at least in the United States, all before the great expansion of vaccination campaigns in the 2000s, and despite three so-called “pandemics” (1957, 1968, 2009) (fig 1).

Fig 1 Crude mortality per 100 000 population, by influenza season (July to June of the following year), for seasons 1930-31 to 2009-10, US. Data sources: Doshi P. Am J Pub Health 2008;98:939-45.


But perhaps the cleverest aspect of the influenza marketing strategy surrounds the claim that “flu” and “influenza” are the same. The distinction seems subtle, and purely semantic. But general lack of awareness of the difference might be the primary reason few people realize that even the ideal influenza vaccine, matched perfectly to circulating strains of wild influenza and capable of stopping all influenza viruses, can only deal with a small part of the “flu” problem because most “flu” appears to have nothing to do with influenza. Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory specimens are tested across the US. Of those tested, on average 16% are found to be influenza positive. (fig 2).

All influenza is “flu,” but only one in six “flus” might be influenza. It’s no wonder so many people feel that “flu shots” don’t work: for most flus, they can’t.

But perhaps the cleverest aspect of the influenza marketing strategy surrounds the claim that “flu” and “influenza” are the same. The distinction seems subtle, and purely semantic. But general lack of awareness of the difference might be the primary reason few people realize that even the ideal influenza vaccine, matched perfectly to circulating strains of wild influenza and capable of stopping all influenza viruses, can only deal with a small part of the “flu” problem because most “flu” appears to have nothing to do with influenza. Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory specimens are tested across the US. Of those tested, on average 16% are found to be influenza positive. (fig 2).



Fig 2 Proportion of specimens testing positive for influenza at World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Laboratories and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) laboratories through the United States. Data are compiled and published by CDC.28-43



Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3037


  • Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Yuko Hara, Tom Jefferson, and Edward Davies, for their comments.

  • Competing interests: I have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: PD is a co-recipient of a UK National Institute for Health Research grant to carry out a Cochrane review of neuraminidase inhibitors (http://www.hta.ac.uk/2352). PD received €1500 from the European Respiratory Society in support of his travel to the society’s September 2012 annual congress where he gave an invited talk on oseltamivir. He is funded by an institutional training grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) #T32HS019488. AHRQ had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Provenance and peer review: commissioned: not externally peer reviewed


  1. Immunization Action Coalition. Honor roll for patient safety: honorees with influenza vaccination mandates. 2013 www.immunize.org/honor-roll/influenza-mandates.asp.
  2. Gardam M, Lemieux C. Mandatory influenza vaccination? First we need a better vaccine. Canadian Med Assoc J2013. www.cmaj.ca/cgi/doi/10.1503/cmaj.122074.
  3. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spread music, not flu. 2012. www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/young/p_spreadmusic_print.pdf.
  4. Langmuir AD, Henderson DA, Serfling RE. The epidemiological basis for the control of influenza. Am J Public Health Nations Health1964;54:563-71.
  5. US Centers for Disease Control. Recommendation of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) Prevention and Control of Influenza. MMWR. 1984;33:253-60,265-6.
  6. Grohskopf L, Uyeki T, Bresee J, Cox N. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—United States, 2012-13 influenza season. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep2012;61:613-8.
  7. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early estimates of seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness—United States, 2013. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep2013;62:32-5.
  8. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Press Briefing Transcript: CDC Update: Flu Season and Vaccine Effectiveness. 2013. www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/t0111_flu_season.html.
  9. NBCNews.com video: From churches to hospitals, flu precautions resound. 2013. www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/50437898.
  10. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim adjusted estimates of seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness—United States, 2013. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep2013;62:119-23.
  11. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shots aren’t just for kids. 2010. www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/f-adults-shots.pdf.
  12. Gross PA, Hermogenes AW, Sacks HS, Lau J, Levandowski RA. The efficacy of influenza vaccine in elderly persons: a meta-analysis and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med1995;123:518-27.
  13. Nichol KL, Nordin JD, Nelson DB, Mullooly JP, Hak E. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine in the community-dwelling elderly. N Engl J Med2007;357:1373-81.
  14. Simonsen L, Reichert TA, Viboud C, Blackwelder WC, Taylor RJ, Miller MA. Impact of influenza vaccination on seasonal mortality in the US elderly population. Arch Intern Med2005;165:265-72.
  15. Simonsen L, Viboud C, Taylor RJ. Effectiveness of influenza vaccination. N Engl J Med2007;357:2729-30; author reply 2730-31.
  16. Eurich DT, Marrie TJ, Johnstone J, Majumdar SR. Mortality reduction with influenza vaccine in patients with pneumonia outside “flu” season: pleiotropic benefits or residual confounding? Am J Respir Crit Care Med2008;178:527-33.
  17. Jackson LA, Jackson ML, Nelson JC, Neuzil KM, Weiss NS. Evidence of bias in estimates of influenza vaccine effectiveness in seniors. Int J Epidemiol2006;35:337-44.
  18. Jackson LA, Nelson JC, Benson P, Neuzil KM, Reid RJ, Psaty BM, et al. Functional status is a confounder of the association of influenza vaccine and risk of all cause mortality in seniors. Int J Epidemiol2006;35:345-52.
  19. Fiore AE, Uyeki TM, Broder K, Finelli L, Euler GL, Singleton JA, et al. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010;59(RR-8):1-62.
  20. Brownlee S, Lenzer J. Does the vaccine matter? Atlantic. 2009. www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/11/does-the-vaccine-matter/7723/.
  21. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Rivetti A, Bawazeer GA, Al-Ansary LA, Ferroni E. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev2010;(7):CD001269.
  22. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Investigation into febrile reactions in young children following 2010 seasonal trivalent influenza vaccination. 2010. www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-seasonal-flu-100702.htm.
  23. European Medicines Agency. European Medicines Agency reviews hypothesis on Pandemrix and development of narcolepsy. 2012. www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2012/10/news_detail_001636.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1.
  24. European Medicines Agency. European Medicines Agency recommends restricting use of Pandemrix. 2011. www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2011/07/news_detail_001312.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1.
  25. Miller E, Andrews N, Stellitano L, Stowe J, Winstone AM, Shneerson J, et al. Risk of narcolepsy in children and young people receiving AS03 adjuvanted pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza vaccine: retrospective analysis. BMJ2013;346:f794.
  26. Reichert T. The erotic history of advertising. Prometheus Books; 2003.
  27. Greene JA. Releasing the flood waters: Diuril and the reshaping of hypertension. Bulletin Hist Med2005;79:749-94.
  28. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 1997-8 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions1997-1998/datafinal/wholaballregion97-98.htm.
  29. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 1998-9 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions1998-1999/datafinal/wholaballregion98-99.htm
  30. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1999-2000 Influenza season summary. 2002. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/WeeklyArchives1999-2000/99-00summary2.htm.
  31. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2000-2001 Laboratory data summary for all regions. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/regions2000-2001/wholaballregion00-01.htm.
  32. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2001-02 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions2001-2002/datafinal/wholaballregion01-02.htm.
  33. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2002-03 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions2002-2003/datafinal/wholaballregion02-03.htm.
  34. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2003-04 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions2003-2004/datafinal/wholaballregion03-04.htm.
  35. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2004-2005 Season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions2004-2005/datafinal/wholaballregion04-05.htm
  36. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2005-06 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/regions2005-2006/datafinal/wholaballregion05-06.htm.
  37. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2006-07 US influenza season summary. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2006-2007/06-07summary.htm
  38. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2007-8 US Influenza season summary. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2007-2008/07-08summary.htm.
  39. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2008-9sSeason. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2008-2009/data/whoAllregt39.htm.
  40. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2009-10 Season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2009-2010/data/whoAllregt20.htm.
  41. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2010-11 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2010-2011/data/whoAllregt20.htm.
  42. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2011-12 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2011-2012/data/whoAllregt39.htm.
  43. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza viruses isolated by WHO/NREVSS Collaborating Laboratories 2012-13 season. www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2012-2013/data/whoAllregt15.htm.
  44. Harper SA, Fukuda K, Uyeki TM, Cox NJ, Bridges CB. Prevention and control of influenza: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2004;53(RR-6):1-40.
  45. Harper SA, Fukuda K, Uyeki TM, Cox NJ, Bridges CB. Prevention and control of influenza. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2005;54(RR-8):1-40.
  46. Smith NM, Bresee JS, Shay DK, Uyeki TM, Cox NJ, Strikas RA. Prevention and Control of Influenza: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006;55(RR-10):1-42.
  47. Fiore AE, Shay DK, Haber P, Iskander JK, Uyeki TM, Mootrey G, et al. Prevention and control of influenza. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2007. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2007;56(RR-6):1-54.
  48. Fiore AE, Shay DK, Broder K, Iskander JK, Uyeki TM, Mootrey G, et al. Prevention and control of influenza: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2008. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2008;57(RR-7):1-60.
  49. Osterholm MT. Influenza vaccine efficacy and effectiveness: a comprehensive review. 2011. www.preventinfluenza.org/NIVS_2011/2-osterholm_vaccine_efficacy.pdf.
  50. Layton C, Robinson T, Honeycutt A. Influenza vaccine demand: the chicken and the

The ‘top ten’ food additives to avoid

Linda Bonvie
Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:44 CDT

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been blogging about the Citizens For Health selections of the top ten food additives to avoid in the “Read Your Labels” campaign. In case you missed any of the actors in this rogue’s gallery of unnecessary and health-damaging ingredients that turn up in so many products, here’s a recap of what they are, where you’re most likely to find them, and why you should keep them out of your diet. As the high point of this campaign, Citizens for Health has declared Thursday, April 11 to be “Read Your Labels Day.” On that date, we would like you to help spread the “411” on these additives by taking a photo of food and beverage products containing these undesirable ingredients and sharing your photos on Instagram by using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels. 

The “Read Your Labels” top ten additives to avoid in review: 

1. High fructose corn syrup 

Where you’ll find it:

Where do we begin? HFCS has permeated the marketplace in so many foods and beverages it’s just about impossible to create a list. For starters, it’s in most all sodas, and many other beverages such as tea and flavored drinks, and numerous juice drinks made for kids, as well as other sweetened items such as jellies, cookies and pastries. It also turns up in some surprising places like bread and condiments, and oddly, even in some diet foods(where it’s possible that a super-high fructose version is used). All in all, to purge HFCS from your diet, you need to read ingredient labels and reject all products containing this laboratory sweetener.

Why you should avoid it:

  • HFCS and high fructose consumption have been implicated in a variety of diseases and health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.
  • The actual fructose percentage of HFCS is variable and unknown (which is why Citizens for Health has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require the true fructose content of HFCS formulas be disclosed on food labels).
  • Contrary to industry propaganda, HFCS isn’t “corn sugar” or a “natural” ingredient, but a test-tube concoction that’s much cheaper than sugar.

2. Aspartame 

Where you’ll find it:

Aspartame is apt to turn up in foods labeled as “light” or “low-cal,” diet soft drinks, teas and juice drinks, kid’s vitamins, liquid cold drugs and other pharmaceuticals, chewing gum, cereal, sugar-free candies. Foods containing this artificial sweetener must also bear a warning that the item contains phenylalanine for those with a disorder called PKU.

Why you should avoid it:

  • Aspartame has never been proven to be a safe food additive, and is, in fact, considered by experts to be in a class of ingredients called “excitotoxins” that can literally excite brain cells to death, especially in children and the elderly (as are the three additives that follow);
  • Studies have connected it to the development of brain tumors in rodents and grand mal seizures in monkeys.
  • Thousands of aspartame-related health complaints, from migraines to memory loss to dizziness to vision problems have been reported to the FDA.

3. Hydrolyzed protein 

4. Autolyzed yeast

5. Monosodium glutamate 

Where you’ll find them:

These “excitoxins” can be found in soups, broth, flavoring additives, chips, dips, soup mixes, ramen noodles, frozen meals, snack mixes, canned fish, and a wide variety of other dishes – including “natural,” “vegetarian,” and organic ones.

Why you should avoid them:

  • These are all toxic substances containing processed glutamic acid that can kill brain cells. They are especially harmful to kids, the elderly and developing fetuses.
  • Adverse reactions to these additives include everything from skin rashes and asthma attacks to mood swings, upset stomach, migraines, heart irregularities and seizures – even potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

6. Potassium bromate 

Where you’ll find it:

Added to flour, it can be found in breads, flat breads, bakery products, knishes and tortillas. (It may also be listed on ingredient labels as “bromated flour.”)

Why you should avoid it:

  • Potassium bromate has been known for over three decades to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
  • It’s banned in Europe, China, Canada and Brazil.
  • If it’s not used “properly,” a significant residue of this additive can end up in the finished food product.

7. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO 

Where you’ll find it:

Some Gatorade products, Mountain Dew and other drinks containing citrus flavorings.

Why you should avoid it:

  • BVO builds up in fatty tissue and been shown to cause heart damage in research animals.
  • It’s banned in Europe, India and Japan.
  • It’s never been declared safe by the FDA, where its status has remained in limbo for over 30 years.

8. BHA and BHT 

Where you’ll find them:

This pair of preservatives turn up in many breakfast cereals (including most Kellogg’s varieties), as well as snack foods, chewing gum, pies, cakes and processed meats.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Made from coal tar or petroleum, BHA and BHT have been of concern for decades.
  • Over 30 years ago studies found that after pregnant mice were fed BHT and BHA, their offspring were born with altered brain chemistry.
  • BHA is considered a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization and listed as a carcinogen in California.

9. Trans fats 

Where you’ll find it:

Any food products containing partially hydrogenated oil contain trans fats, regardless of a zero trans fats listing on the nutrition facts label. These can include bakery items, pizza, dough, pies, cakes and cookies, snack foods and frozen meals.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Trans fats increase LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • People with high blood levels of trans fats appear to have a greater risk of developing certain cancers. (Some research has even linked them to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.)
  • All health authorities, including government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are in agreement that trans fats cause heart disease and that cutting them out of our diet could prevent thousand of heart attacks and death from coronary disease each year.

10. Artificial colors 

Where you’ll find them:

They’re present in many cereals, cakes, candy, bakery products, drinks, juice drinks, vitamins and pharmaceuticals.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Artificial colors are widely acknowledged to cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.
  • They’re made from both coal tar and petroleum extracts – hardly the sort of things one would want to ingest.
  • Some, such as Red #3, have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but are still allowed to be used in foods.

So there they are in review – the top ten offenders among food additives. They’re best avoided (except in the case of processed glutamic acid), by buying organic processed foods, or, better yet, by cooking your own food from scratch as much as possible. But if you’re too hard pressed to always do all that, you should at least take the time to read those ingredient labels – and keep the items that contain these health-threatening intruders out of your kitchen and out of your life.


Natural flu prevention and natural flu treatment – Flu shot alternatives



Wednesday, January 16, 2013 by: Talya Dagan

(NaturalNews) Natural remedies for the flu, such as vitamins, herbs and homeopathy, can treat and prevent the flu and norovirus. Flu viruses have acquired a “high level of resistance” to the flu vaccine, other remedies and preventive treatments for this year’s flu season are advised. Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own studies showed that they believe the flu vaccine to be only 16 to 63 percent effective against the flu. This is the same percentages as those who do not have the flu shot.

Flu statistics as of January 2013

This year is a very nasty strain. The number of cases in England, as reported by the British Health Protection Agency is up 83 percent from 2011. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. Another flu with vertigo and headache is also circulating. The flu season started early and in January 2013 was widespread across the U.S. with 47 states reporting high activity. Strains of viruses identified include two influenza strains–H1N1, H3N2–and influenza B. Two percent of the 1,586 cases tested, which means about 300 cases, were of H1N1. The other 98 percent were of the H3N2 variety. Both H1N1 and H3N2 virus strains are components of the Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season, which means that the flu shot this year is not providing coverage for the flu.

Flu strains have developed resistance to the flu vaccine

The CDC explains: “High levels of resistance to the adamantanes (amantadine and rimantadine) persist among 2009 influenza A (H1N1) and A (H3N2) viruses. Adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses.”

What are adamantanes?

Adamantanes are a hydrocarbon compound derived from petroleum in 1933. It has been used as an antiviral since 1967, and as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommended wide use of this drug to prevent epidemics, in 1979.

Natural flu prevention and natural flu treatment recommendations

Homeopathic remedies for the flu

Homeopathy was an effective an effective treatment for the 1918 flu. Vertatrum album as a possible remedy for this year’s flu, if it’s accompanied with cold perspiration on the head. The person may also have simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting. If a person is weak and has cold chills when they have the flu, this might be a good remedy to try. Cocculus indicus is the remedy to consider if you experience dizziness as if drunk, or episodic with a light-headedness and internal trembling. This accompanies a feeling of weakness that is worse from exerting yourself.

Vitamins for natural flu treatment and prevention

Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as a scavenger to fight the viruses themselves and is concentrated inside the white blood cells. A 1999 study recommended 1,000 mg of vitamin C every hour for six hours and 1,000 three times a day to prevent and relieve flu symptoms.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the symptoms of the flu and to help prevent the flu. A 2007 study showed that only one percent of the people who took vitamin D got the flu.

For links to the research studies and more natural flu remedies, see the links below.




About the author:
Talya Dagan is a health advocate and health coach, trained in nutrition and gourmet health food cuisine, writing about natural remedies for disease and nutrition and herbal medicine.