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Letters to the Editor Issue 65

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 65 - June 2001

Cycle for Charity

At this time of year people are often looking for ways to get fit and clear out the cobwebs which have accumulated over the winter months and as an athlete, I want to encourage people in their efforts.

It can be difficult to get started and a fitness programme needs to be rewarding and fun and here's one way that certainly provides all that and more.

Leonard Cheshire, the UK's largest disability care charity is organizing a cycling and trekking trip to Nicaragua in October.
Leonard Cheshire works with more than 15,000 disabled people here in the UK and many more around the world. In fact, people undertaking the Cheshire Challenge will be able to meet some of the disabled people in Nicaragua who will benefit from their fundraising efforts.

I would encourage your readers to find out more about this exciting trip which is a great way to keep fit, see a beautiful and unique part of the world and support the vital work of Leonard Cheshire.

Further details are available from Samantha Woodland on 020-7802 8200 or visit

Katherine Merry
2001 Olympic Bronze Medalist (400m)


I read your article on Endometriosis in April's Positive Health.

The Women's Environmental Network have found that in Germany, women with endometriosis have higher levels of PCBs (similar to dioxin chemicals) in their bodies.

The USA Environmental Protection Agency mentions endometriosis in its list of non-cancer effects from these industrial pollutants. This could explain why the disease has increased in recent years.

A recent study found 500 man-made chemicals in a single cell of a healthy 30-year old woman living in Britain.

For further details of the endometriosis link to pollution contact The Women's Environmental Network, 8 Worship Street, London EC2 2BE. Tel: 020-7481 9004.

Certain industries and companies have avoided cleaning up their industrial waste and there is little government interest in looking for the environmental causes of ill-health.

Best Wishes
A Wells

Dairy and Breast Cancer Conflicting Arguments

I am rather confused by two conflicting articles that appeared in issue 64. Both relate to the potential links between dairy products and breast cancer. In your book review Professor Jane Plant clearly attributes breast cancer to the consumption of dairy products, whilst Stephen Byrnes (The role of essential fatty acids in breast cancer prevention) articulates the role of full fat dairy products in breast cancer prevention.

I am a homeopath and believe that diet and nutrition are paramount to good health and therefore like to be informed of the latest research so that I can advise my patients accordingly.

Both articles are clearly contradictory and have left me perplexed and unable to make recommendations to my patients.

I would appreciate your comments.

Maria Macklin

The Editor Comments

Actually, neither of these two positions is backed up by hard research; both are hypotheses with some considerable truth, I suspect.

Professor Plant found that in her case, ceasing to consume dairy products resulted in a regression of her breast cancer, and she presented a cogent argument, much of which related to potentially environmentally derived toxic products present within milk, such as hormones, PCBs and bacterial (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) contamination.

Stephen Byrnes presents an equally compelling argument about substances present in whole dairy products (lauric acid, coconut, palm oils) which may prevent breast cancer.

If cancer were a simple issue, treatment approaches would be much easier for practitioners and patients alike. Since it is not, I would much prefer that readers of Positive Health are aware of the huge chasms separating professional opinion – within the natural as much as conventional medicine.

Sandra Goodman, Ph.D.

The Group For the Scientific Reappraisal of AIDS Welcomes and Endorses Panel Report from South Africa

"The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is never too certain that it is right."

Former Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand

This week's release of the long awaited Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report from South Africa represents an historic turning point that The Group For the Scientific Reappraisal of AIDS has been fighting for since its inception a decade ago. The group was formed in 1991 by former Harvard biologist Dr Charles Thomas who, along with many other eminent scientists, felt the need to formally oppose the totalitarian nature of the AIDS discourse, and its tragic consequences on the lives of millions of people around the world.

Since the 1984 press conference at which HIV was declared by the United States Government to be the 'probable; cause of AIDS, the mass media has cemented the impression that the scientific consensus to this hypothesis was total. In fact there has been considerable and formidable disagreement from many corners of the scientific community, most famously from UC/Berkeley virologist Dr Peter Duesberg, whose name has become equated with dissenting points of view.

Scientists who initially shared Duesberg's critical viewpoint soon found themselves subject to extreme forms of censorship and professional punishment resulting from their departure from the orthodox view. The (then titled) Group For The Scientific Reappraisal of The HIV-AIDS Hypothesis came into existence as a group of signatories of an open letter to the scientific community. The letter, (dated June 6, 1991) was submitted to every major scientific journal, including Nature, Science, The Lancet, and The New England Journal Of Medicine. All refused to publish it. In 1996, The Group was finally able to get a letter published in Science.

The original letter read as follows:

To the editor: It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group of diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

Although the popular media persists in depicting the challenge to the main paradigm as insignificant, and claims that the evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS is 'overwhelming,' the new report from South Africa provides far-ranging data that substantiate many concepts and ideas advanced by The Group. Over 2000 signatories have lent their names to this dissent, including two Nobel Laureates Dr. Walter Gilbert and Dr. Kary Mullis. The overwhelming majority hold Ph.D. degrees in various scientific disciplines, from virology and epidemiology to biochemistry and medicine. We take delight in noting the irony that The Group's lofty goal of open scientific discourse was finally realized in South Africa, a country long known as the home of 'apartheid' but recognized today as a beacon of hope and promise as the 'rainbow nation'.

President Thabo Mbeki has prevailed in his quest for a fuller, deeper understanding of the complex cause or causes of AIDS, despite the near-hysterical protests from mainstream AIDS activists, the research establishment, and the media. This week, an interim report was released, documenting the arguments made by both the conventional viewpoint and the dissidents who comprised the 60 member panel. This panel met twice in South Africa, and engaged in an internet debate that was distilled into the 132 page report which was released on April 4th. While the report does not reach a definitive conclusion over whether or not HIV causes AIDS, it is nonetheless a victory for those who have insisted upon scientific discourse as the only path to real solutions to the AIDS crisis. The report lends credence to the very questions the dissidents have insisted be brought to light since 1987.

These questions stem from the core question: Does HIV Cause AIDS? Using dispassionate, scientific language, the report concedes that this question remains unanswered, and that the orthodox contention that the evidence is 'overwhelming' is unfounded. The report fulfils the original goals expressed in the Group's 1991 letter which stated that "the only way of generating the answers is to carry out proper scientific investigations". All ten experiments proposed by AIDS dissidents on the panel were endorsed for funding by the South African Cabinet. Upon completion, these experiments will at long last answer fundamental questions about: HIV's alleged pathogenic effect (its role in AIDS). The accuracy of the widely used HIV tests which cross react with a range of other non-HIV microbes endemic to Africa, including those for malaria and TB, as well immunological factors detectable among pregnant women.

The extraordinary lack of reliable figures on HIV or AIDS on the continent of Africa, where the Global Burden of Disease Study (1996) estimated that only 1.1% of death statistics were accurate.

The unexplained yet vitally important impact of heightened levels of poverty, malnutrition, unclean drinking water, improper sanitation, and other non-viral challenges that cause significant increases in sickness and death in Africa, where many deaths are now routinely attributed to AIDS or are called AIDS-related.

The toxic effects of AIDS drugs which by themselves can be lethal.

The Group expects that the media will predictably treat the prudent and balanced South Africa report with its usual mix of moral condemnation and disdain for the facts. They will do so under the guise of protecting the public from information deemed 'dangerous'. We consider information to fall into two categories: true or false. It follows from that principle that the only dangerous information is that which is false. In that spirit, we applaud the courage of President Mbeki and his ministers who have reminded us all of the true meaning of freedom and democracy. We hope that members of the media will scrutinize the South African AIDS Report, re-examine their core beliefs about HIV and AIDS, and fulfil the core mandate of the journalistic ethic which is to check all sides of the story, and to report the facts as they find them. We are ready to assist in this process any way we can.

In conclusion, The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of AIDS reaffirms and reiterates its mission statement: 1) To develop, articulate, and promote rational scientific discourse on the subject of HIV and AIDS. 2) To advocate the absolute right for students, professors, physicians, scientists, government officials, and everyone else to think freely and speak openly on the subject of HIV and AIDS without fear of professional, social, political, economic, or criminal penalties. 3) To assemble scientists, physicians, and other informed people who support these views, and make them available for commentary and consultation to interested social groups, media outlets, government agencies, professional organizations, and individuals.

The full AIDS Advisory Panel Report can be found at:
Press Release From The Group - April 6, 2001. Contact: Celia Farber (Press Secretary) Tel: +1 212 803-5185.
Courtesy Dr Stephen Byrnes Health on the Edge.


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