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Mercury on the Mind

by Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD


  Although they afflict widely different age groups, autism and Alzheimer's
disease share a common cause: mercury. Dr. Boyd Haley, professor and chair
of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky, and Dr. Bernard
Rimland, founder of the Autism Research Institute, presented evidence at
this year's Doctors for Disaster Preparedness meeting that connects mercury
with these diseases.

This heavy metal is highly poisonous. A Dartmouth professor studying the
chemical characteristics of an organic form of mercury - dimethyl mercury -
spilled two drops of it on her gloved hand. The first sign of mercury
poisoning occurred four months later when her speech began to be slurred.
This was followed by difficulty walking and loss of vision. She then fell
into a coma and died. Another person, attempting to smelt the silver in
dental amalgams he obtained (they are 35 percent silver, 50 percent mercury,
and 15 percent tin, zinc, and other metals), heated them in a frying pan.
The mercury vapor thus generated killed him quickly. The two other family
members in the house at the time also died.

Mercury is one proton (neutron and electron) heavier than gold - the atomic
number of gold is 79; mercury, 80. It is distributed throughout the earth's
crust. Unlike other metals, mercury, in its elemental state, is liquid
(molten) at room temperature. And it releases a steady stream of gaseous
mercury atoms that linger in the atmosphere for months (eventually falling
back to earth and its oceans in an inorganic form in rain drops). Even when
in a solid state, combined with other metals as an alloy, mercury atoms
continually escape into the atmosphere. Once added to latex paint, put in
teething powder, used in making hats, as a fungicide on seeds, as an
antiseptic (Merthiolate), and as a treatment for syphilis (the cure was
worse than the disease), human exposure to mercury today comes principally
from three sources: dental amalgams, vaccines, and fish.

Elemental mercury when released by a dental amalgam is inhaled and (80
percent of it) absorbed by the lungs and retained in the body. Vaccine
makers add thimerosal (which is half ethyl mercury) to vaccines to prevent
bacterial contamination. This injected organic form of mercury is readily
taken up by brain and heart muscle cells. Fish harbor another organic form
of mercury - methyl mercury, which is obtained from plankton that synthesize
it from inorganic mercury extracted from the sea.

Currently the two most important sources of mercury exposure for Americans
are dental amalgams and vaccinations. The Federal government's Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
for reasons not explained, have chosen to ignore this fact. These agencies
and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) focus exclusively on mercury in
seafood, to the extent that the NIH will not fund studies that address
mercury in amalgams and vaccines.

In lockstep with the government, the American Dental Association (ADA)
claims that amalgams are safe, and the mercury in them poses no problem. The
(government-funded) Institute of Medicine (IOM) and various specialty
societies, notably the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American
Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American Medical Association
(AMA), say the same thing about mercury in vaccines. There is growing
evidence, however, that mercury in vaccines and amalgams cause both autism
and Alzheimer's disease. The CDC and the FDA and the medical establishment,
led by its specialty societies, discount or ignore this evidence - evidence
that includes privately funded epidemiological studies; research on how
mercury damages brain cells grown in culture; animal studies in rodents,
sheep, and primates; and clinical studies in children and adults.

Autism was discovered in 1943, in American children, twelve years after
ethyl mercury (thimerosal) was added to the pertussis vaccine. (The disease
was not seen in Europe until the 1950s, after thimerosal was added to
vaccines used there.) In a typical case, shortly before his 2nd birthday a
normally developing, healthy boy stops communicating with others and
withdraws into himself. He avoids eye contact and becomes strange and aloof.
His vision becomes blurred; and he develops various motor disturbances, such
as involuntary jerking of the arms and legs and walking on his toes. In
addition to these manifestations, Dr. Sallie Bernard and her colleagues, in
a study titled, "Autism: A Unique Type of Mercury Poisoning," describe the
speech difficulties, unusual behavior (such as unprovoked crying spells and
head banging), various degrees of cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal
difficulties, and immune difficulties that these autistic children can have.
Mercury is most likely a causative factor in other developmental disorders
as well, such as delayed speech and attention deficit hyperactivity

Investigators have shown that there is a direct relationship between
increasing doses of mercury in vaccines and autism. In the 1950s, with an
immunization schedule limited to four vaccines (against diphtheria, tetanus,
pertussis, and smallpox), 1 in 10,000 children developed this disease. As
vaccines for other diseases were added, health care providers began
injecting increasingly larger doses of mercury into children. Those born in
1981 were given 135 micrograms of mercury (on average), and one case of
autism occurred in every 2,600 children born that year. With the addition of
hepatitis B vaccine (injected on the day of birth) and one for Haemophilus
influenzae Type b, providers injected 246 micrograms of mercury into
children born in 1996. Autism occurred in one out of every 350 of these
children. Today, providers follow an immunization schedule, prepared by the
CDC and approved by the AAP and AAFP, that includes 13 vaccines given, with
variable numbers of booster shots, 33 times before a child reaches the age
of 2 (when the development of the brain is completed). Autism now afflicts 1
in 100 boys and 1 in 400 girls, and physicians diagnose 100,000 new cases of
this disease every year in the U.S (using diagnostic criteria, in the
DSM-IV, that is more restrictive than the previous DSM-IIIR). Over the last
30 years more than one million children have come down with this disease,
and currently one in every 68 families in America has an autistic child.

Mainstream medical journals, like Pediatrics and The New England Journal of
Medicine, only publish studies that claim thimerosal is safe. And it turns
out that these articles are written in large part by researchers in the pay
of vaccine makers, as the Coalition for Safe Minds (Sensible Action For
Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders), a private nonprofit
organization, has shown. Editors of these journals will not publish studies
that show a link between thimerosal and autism like "Thimerosal in Childhood
Vaccines, Neurodevelopment Disorders, and Heart Disease in the United
States" by Mark and David Geier, which documents a strong association
between the amounts of mercury injected in vaccines and autism. Such
articles can only find acceptance in alternative (i.e., "politically
incorrect") journals like the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,
where this one was published.

The amount of damage a given dose of mercury can do to the brain (and also
the heart) depends on one's age, sex, and genetically determined ability to
excrete mercury. Young children with still developing brains are more
susceptible, and males are more vulnerable to a given dose of mercury
because testosterone enhances its neurotoxicity. Most important, however, is
one's genetically programmed ability to rid the body of mercury. The brain
has a house-cleaning protein that removes dangerous waste products, which
comes in three varieties: APO-E2, APO-E3, and APO-E4. The APO-E2 protein can
carry 2 atoms of mercury out of the brain; APO-3, one; and AOP-E4, none. The
genes we acquire from each parent determine which two we have. People with
two APO-E4 proteins (and thus no APO-E2 or -E3) have an 80 percent chance of
acquiring Alzheimer's disease. And according to one study, autistic children
have a huge preponderance of APO-E4 protein in their brains.

Alzheimer's disease was discovered in 1906, again in America, where dentists
used mercury-laden amalgams to fill cavities (dentists in Europe largely
avoided them). Today, more than 4 million Americans now have Alzheimer's
disease. It afflicts half of people over the age of 85 and 20 percent aged
75 to 84.

The first symptoms of this disease are difficulty concentrating and variable
degrees of memory loss, leading ultimately to devastating mental
deterioration. The brains of people with Alzheimer's disease shrink by 25
percent and have distinct pathologic hallmarks (neurofibillary tangles,
amyloid plaques, and phosphorylation of tau protein). Brain cells grown in
the laboratory develop the same three pathologic findings when exposed to
nanomolar (3.6 10-10 molar) doses of mercury, an amount approximating that
found in the brains of people who have a lot of amalgam fillings.

Dental amalgams are the main source of mercury in an adult's brain. An
average-sized amalgam filling contains 750,000 micrograms of mercury and
releases around 10 micrograms a day. Researchers put radiolabelled mercury
amalgams in the teeth of sheep and determined where escaped mercury went
with a scanner. They showed that mercury atoms exhaled through the nose
travel up filaments of the olfactory nerve to the hippocampus, which
controls memory, and to other critical areas in the brain. In another study,
rats given the same concentration of mercury that people inhale from their
amalgams develop the pathologic markers of Alzheimer's disease. People with
Alzheimer's disease have mercury levels in their brains that are 2 to 3
times higher than that seen in normal people.

The mercury in flu vaccines also plays a role in this disease. One
investigator has found that people who received the flu vaccine each year
for 3 to 5 years had a ten-fold greater chance of developing Alzheimer's
disease than people who had zero, 1, or 2 shots.

Another important factor with regard to mercury on the mind, which officials
at the CDC, FDA and the professors in the IOM do not consider, is
synergistic toxicity - mercury's enhanced effect when other poisons are
present. A small dose of mercury that kills 1 in 100 rats and a dose of
aluminum that will kill 1 in 100 rats, when combined have a striking effect:
all the rats die. Doses of mercury that have a 1 percent mortality will have
a 100 percent mortality rate if some aluminum is there. Vaccines contain

Why do officials at the CDC, FDA, and leaders of the medical and dental
establishment discount or ignore all these important facts? Some of them
being in the pay of vaccine makers is one reason. The specter of litigation
for having sanctioned thimerosal and amalgams and, in the case of the FDA,
not doing appropriate safety studies on them is another. But it is more
complicated than that. The hypothesis that mercury causes autism and
Alzheimer's disease is a new truth. And as Schopenhauer points out (see my
article on him), each new truth passes through three stages: First, it is
ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as
self-evident. The mercury truth is now in the second stage.

In the 1790s Edward Jenner observed that milk maids did not have pock marks
on their faces, like people did who had contracted and survived smallpox.
Milking cows with cowpox rendered them immune to smallpox. He took fluid
from the pustules of infected cows, injected it into children, and found
that it protected them, when exposed, from contracting smallpox. The medical
establishment of the day dismissed the idea of vaccinating people with cow
pus as nonsense; and Sir Joseph Banks, president of the British Royal
Society (the IOM of the day), told Jenner that he would ruin his reputation
if he tried to publish these findings, which were so much at variance with
established knowledge. When other doctors and informed individuals like
Thomas Jefferson recognized that "vaccination" did indeed work, its value
was, in time, accepted as self-evident. Jenner's vaccine saved millions of
lives and eradicated a disfiguring disease that has a 30 percent mortality
rate. (But laboratories in the U.S. and U.S.S.R. preserved the virus that
causes smallpox, and we now know that Soviet microbiologists grew vast
quantities of it in chicken eggs for use as a biological weapon of mass

Today the medical establishment, led by the AAP, AAFP, AMA, CDC, and IOM,
has gone to the other extreme. The accepted wisdom now is that vaccines are
a panacea. Health care providers start injecting them in infants on the day
of birth, and government officials seek to have them made mandatory for all
Americans. But some little-discussed facts belie their value. Deaths from
diphtheria, for example, declined 90 percent from 1900 to 1930, due to
better sanitation and nutrition, before there was a vaccine for this
disease. Likewise, the death rate for measles declined 95 percent (13.3 to
0.03 deaths per 100,000 population) between 1915 and 1958, before the
vaccine for measles vaccine was introduced in 1963. Viewed from a
risk/benefit perspective, providers and government officials downplay the
deleterious effects that vaccines can have on one's health and inflate their
benefits. The top medical textbook on the subject is Vaccines, edited by
Drs. Plotkin and Orenstein. In the 1999 3rd Edition that I reviewed (a
slightly longer 4th Edition was published last year), its authors confine
their discussion of mercury in vaccines to two short paragraphs in this
1,230-page book. They do not address concerns that have been raised about
its neurotoxicity.

Vaccine manufacturers have started removing thimerosal from vaccines. And
for the first time since the state began keeping records on this disease,
California has had a decrease, of 6 percent, in the annual number of
children over the age of 3 who have been diagnosed with autism. This
occurred in children born in 2000, when the phase-out of thimerosal in
vaccines began. Iowa has passed a law banning thimerosal in that state, and
California has done the same thing for pregnant women and children under 3
(the bill awaits the governor's signature). But pharmaceutical companies
still add thimerosal in their Flu vaccines; and pediatricians are
vaccinating children with their remaining supply of thimerosal-containing
vaccines, which the FDA has chosen not to recall.

Taking mercury out of vaccines would substantially reduce the incidence of
autism, but this alone will not eliminate the disease. Giving too many
vaccines over too short a time to infants whose nervous system is not yet
fully developed can also trigger autism and its spectrum of disorders. As
Dr. Blaylock has shown (see Recommended Reading below), multiple vaccines
given close together over-stimulate the brain's immune system and, via the
mechanism of "bystander injury," destroy brain cells.

Much more research needs to be done on the neurotoxicity of mercury and
excessive vaccination. Dr. Haley terms autism Mad Child Disease. Finding one
cow in the U.S. with Mad Cow Disease, from Canada, prompted the Federal
government to spent millions of dollars examining other cows to see if they
had contracted it. With regard to Mad Child Disease, however, the government
spends $59.00 in research for every case of autism diagnosed in this

Avoiding flu shots that contain thimerosal, and having dentists stop
implanting mercury amalgams in people's mouths would lower the incidence of
Alzheimer's disease. If you have amalgam fillings, particularly if there is
a family history of Alzheimer's disease, you might consider having them
removed. Be sure to have a dentist do it who follows the protocol
established by The International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology for
safely removing them.

For the third source of mercury, follow the CDC's advice and don't eat
mercury-contaminated fish, especially if you are pregnant because mercury in
your bloodstream crosses the placenta and is concentrated in the fetus'

Recommended Reading - in addition to the online links provided above

An excellent review of thimerosal and autism, titled "Mercury in Medicine -
Taking Unnecessary Risks," is to be found, of all places, in the
Congressional Record. Prepared by its Subcommittee on Human Rights and
Wellness, this report was presented to the Committee on Government Reform,
chaired by Congressman Dan Burton (who has an autistic grandson).
Congressional Record, May 21, 2003, E1011-E1030.

SafeMinds president, Lyn Redwood, presented testimony at a Congressional
hearing held on September 8, 2004 that exposes malfeasance by the CDC and
FDA related to thimerosal. It is titled "Truth Revealed: New Scientific
Discoveries Regarding Mercury in Medicine and Autism" and is posted on their
website, safeminds.org. See also this organization's 84-page Report to
Congress titled, "A Brief Analysis of Recent Efforts in Medical Mercury
Induced Neurological and Autism Spectrum Disorders" (September 8, 2004).

"The Three Modern Faces of Mercury" - in fish, vaccines, and dental
amalgams - by Thomas Clarkson in Environmental Health Perspectives Volume
110 | Supplement 1 | February 2002 | pages 11-23. This study provides an
current-day perspective on mercury exposure, post Calomel, Merthiolate, and
Mad Hatters.

If your dentist parrots the American Dental Association stance on this
subject and says that "silver" - i.e., mercury - amalgams are perfectly
safe, insist that he or she read Dr. Boyd Haley's response to the president
of the ADA on his defense of dental amalgams. It is posted on this website.
I sent it to my dentist who I had been going to for a number of years. When
he chose to ignore it, I changed dentists - to a mercury-free one and had
him remove all my amalgam fillings.

"Mercury: the Silent Killer," Chapter 3 in Health and Nutrition Secrets That
Can Save Your Life by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. As a board-certified
neurosurgeon, Dr. Blaylock, like me, is a member of the medical
establishment. He now, however, studies and writes about wellness and
complementary/alternative medicine on a full-time basis.

Are Vaccines Safe and Effective? by Neil Z. Miller (2002). This 78-page
(paperback) book is well worth reading, especially if you have children or
if you are being pressured to get a flu shot.

For a comprehensive review, with 167 scientific references, on how vaccines
damage infants' and soldiers' brains (Gulf War Syndrome) when given too
close together, see Dr. Blaylock's "Interaction of Cytokines, Excitotoxins,
Reactive Nitrogen and Oxygen Species in Autism Spectrum Disorders" in the
Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (JANA 2003;6[4]:21-35).
See also his study, "Chronic Microglial Activation and Excitotoxicity
Secondary to Excessive Immune Stimulation: Possible Factors in GulfWar
Syndrome and Autism" in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
(JAPS 2004;9[2]:46-52). Dr. Blaylock has written a simplified version of
these studies for the general public titled "Vaccines: the Hidden Dangers,"
in his Blaylock Wellness Report (Vol. 1, No. 1), which is published monthly
and can be purchased online.

September 29, 2004

Donald Miller (send him mail) is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery
at the University of Washington in Seattle and a member of Doctors for
Disaster Preparedness and writes articles on a variety of subjects for
LewRockwell.com, including bioterrorism. His web site is

Copyright 2004 LewRockwell.com