Vaccines cause diabetes: Extreme confusion over ‘literature review’ #scarequotes

There has been a flurry of news articles and blog posts on the interwebs concerning a recently published ‘review’ that claims a link between vaccines and a number of health issues including diabetes. The mini-review, published in Molecular and Genetic Medicine (no longer part of NCBI PMC? see below… just sayin’) by J. Bart Classen, focuses on induced immune overload. This phenomenon is supposedly an immune response to vaccinations that is to blame for diabetes, metabolic disorders, autism… and the list goes on. Just for clarification, the theory of induced immune overload essentially ignores the potential immune response that would be caused by any of the many diseases we currently vaccinate against.

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Interestingly, the articles and blog posts refer to the review as a new ‘paper’ or ‘study.’ Misleading much? This REVIEW just summarizes old studies and REVIEWS the literature (that’s what reviews do). Nothing new here. No new data. No new in-depth analysis. Just applying a few new papers to an old (tired) idea. There is not even a correlation analysis of the data from those new papers (not one figure or table). That makes the titles below quite erroneous indeed.

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The articles and blogs, as you can tell from the titles, claim the REVIEW found a link between diseases and vaccination. And who can blame them when the review ends with, “The author believes that the sum of the data described and reviewed in this paper supports a casual relationship.” Really? a causal relationship? A REVIEW of data that doesn’t even show correlation, claims to have found a causal relationship? In my opinion, the author doesn’t know the difference between correlation, causation, or just a bunch of ideas strung together. Also, this REVIEW of the literature is a little biased: 10 of the 42 citations are the author’s previous work. Ouch. But, this is not new for J. Bart Classen:

This idea (induced immune overload) relies on the flawed work of one doctor (Classen), who gathered data on a slew of vaccines and failed to follow standard study protocols. No other study — including those using the same data — could reproduce the results. The CDC and the Institute of Medicine have both dismissed any possible link. This argument also ignores the obvious and well-established fact that diabetes rates in children are climbing because obesity rates are climbing. – Amy Wallace in wired article

What does the CDC say about diabetes and vaccines?

Can vaccines cause diabetes?

No. Carefully performed scientific studies show that vaccines do not cause diabetes or increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes. In 2002, the Institute of Medicine reviewed the existing studies and released a report concluding that the scientific evidence favors rejection of the theory that immunizations cause diabetes. The only evidence suggesting a relationship between vaccination and diabetes comes from Dr. John B. Classen, who has suggested that certain vaccines if given at birth may decrease the occurrence of diabetes, whereas if initial vaccination is performed after 2 months of age the occurrence of diabetes increases. Dr. Classen’s studies have a number of limitations and have not been verified by other researchers.

See below for links to a few of the many articles that show no link, correlation, or snippet of a relationship between vaccines and diabetes. Essentially, the people that wrote news articles or blogs about this publication confused a REVIEW article, with a real scientific study or something with new scientific evidence (a biased REVIEW at that). Not surprising given that J. Bart Classen is an anti-vaccination advocate (even wikipedia knows that). Smells a little like conflict of interest, doesn’t it?

Just to be clear, there is little to no data that supports a relationship between vaccines and diabetes, or any other diseases mentioned in the REVIEW by Classen, or by the blogs and articles that mis-cite the review. Is induced immune overload made-up? Who knows, but until there is good data supporting it, and its role in causing other diseases, all of this is just anti-vaccination propaganda.

Further reading and other studies:

http://www.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-safety/vaccines-and-health-conditions/diabetes.html

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa032665#t=articleTop

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/108/6/e112.long/reply#pediatrics_el_281

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1843461

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11731639

Mark Regnerus: conflict of interest? Responsible Conduct of Research fail

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Mark Regnerus is currently an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, a research associate of the university’s Population Research Center, and a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. He is widely known for his New Family Structures Study, which examined the impact of same-sex parenting. You may have heard of it because it has been used as expert testimony in state court cases for same-sex marriage (more here). While it always seemed that this research reeked of conflict of interest (his own department called it ‘fundamentally flawed’), his anti-gay bias was out in full force in a recent radio broadcast (More info and audio here from Good As You). Last I checked, when doing research, there isn’t a good and evil, just what is true and what is not. If you are so biased, how can your results not be fraudulent?

 

Out of curiosity I looked to see what funding sources Mark Regnerus uses for his research. Most is private funding from various family and anti-gay groups. However, he has also received National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in the past (2 R03 awards, and others as co-investigator). I guess for those awards he didn’t have to take responsible conduct of research classes? Or if he did, he seems to have ignored them.