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Letters to the Editor Issue 70

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 70 - November 2001

Jolanta Basnyet re Prof Ernst Book Review

I enjoyed your Editorial in the last edition of Positive Health very much. I endorse every single sentence in the text. I hope more readers will share their views with you. It was almost exactly as described in the first sentence of the review of the book New Back In Action where Wendy Emberson writes: "It is always a pleasure to write a review about a book with which you are in almost total agreement." I am in total agreement with your views contained in your last editorial.

Also, I enjoyed reading the discourse regarding Prof Ernst's book. Congratulations! As Principal of the Lancashire Holistic College, we used to order research papers; however, upon receipt of these in 1999, we found that most research papers were undersigned by Prof Ernst. These documents included a broad spectrum of research studies in the field of acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage, nutrition, reflexology, etc. We wrote a letter, emphasizing that one person cannot conduct so many research studies in as many areas of natural therapies; one can become an expert in only so many fields, but not in all of them, and we cancelled the order.

I attended a meeting in London where Prof Ernst explained a protocol of one hypnotherapy study. Asked by a practitioner what would happen in the 'placebo' group, Prof Ernst answered that the hypnotherapist would not use his/her skills on the subjects in this group, but would count to TEN instead. How could he prove that the hypnotherapist did, in fact, count to TEN during the session! Is this a good enough premise for a 'scientifically' conducted research project?

Thank you for retaining the unbiased character of the magazine – my students enjoy reading it and so do our patients in the clinic waiting for their treatments. I hold Positive Health magazine in great esteem and hope you will continue to publish opinions from all quarters of medicine, be it alternative, complementary or orthodox!

Jolanta Basnyet BSc BA(Hons) ITEC MIFA MAR
Natural Health Centre, Preston Lancs W:

Soil Minerals and Organic Agriculture

Thank you for your interesting article on Soil Minerals and Immune System Dysfunction in the October issue of Positive Health. The pay-off from conventional farming is the lowering in the standard of health of the population. The government does not seem to understand this and gives less support for organic agriculture than do other countries in the EEC. Keeping balance in the soil to produce balanced nutrition for the people should be an essential aim for the government, but to date it has been ignored.

Normally we use an organic rotation to keep the mineral content of the soil balanced. We are researching continual cereal growing which should deplete mineral content but have managed to keep the soil balanced with the use of radionics.

I highly recommend the fascinating book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price DDS (see also Which Food is Best? by Stephen Byrne ND, Issue 61 Positive Health, which detailed the research by Weston Price).

Major Gordon Smith,
Maperton Trust
E: W:

Death of Sally Baldwin

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Sally Baldwin, The Countess Baldwin of Bewdley on 22 June 2001. Sally, diagnosed with a Grade II, Stage 3 infiltrating ductal breast carcinoma in 1993, managed to live fully and reclaim her life for an additional 8 years, using a combination of unconventional – dietary (Gerson), nutritional, holistic – and conventional treatments. She has been a beacon of hope to countless of thousands of cancer sufferers, especially since the publication of her story in the Daily Mail in 1997.


She worked tirelessly to set up The Speedwell Trust (Tel: 01865 407816;, to provide help and hope to those with serious illness, offering up-to-date information, advice, guidance and treatment.

Her inspiring article A New Chance in Life, co-authored by Sally and her husband, Edward Baldwin, was published in Integrated Cancer Care (Editor Jennifer Barraclough, Oxford University Press, 2001, reviewed in Positive Health Issue 63) will leave yet another tangible legacy of this deeply committed, feisty and wonderful woman, whom we shall all miss but not forget.

One Year On – Death of Rysia Ziendalski

Rysia Ziendalski died on October 15th 2000. Rysia played so many important roles in the work of the Gerson Support Group for a long time and her passing leaves a big gap which will be hard to fill. She served on the Management Committee of the Gerson Support Group and was a Trustee. She edited their newsletter and produced several excellent booklets on various Gerson subjects. Above all, she was a dedicated friend and helper.

Rysia discovered a lump in her left breast in 1992 and it was diagnosed as "pre-cancerous" in April 1993. Rysia's mother had died in 1989 from cancer and Rysia did not want to follow the same route. Her mother had had a mastectomy and chemotherapy. In July 1993, Rysia and I flew to Mexico to start the Gerson Therapy and Rysia stayed close to it for the next seven years.

In recent years, Rysia was feeling so well that she started to address other things. In early 1998 she had all her amalgams replaced but, when she started to get aches and pains last year, she discovered that she had high levels of mercury in her body. She was addressing mercury toxicity when she died but it was disguising the fact that her cancer had spread into her bones. On September 10th last year, Rysia got out of bed by herself for the last time. Five weeks later. on October 15th, she died.

To some people, Rysia's death proves that the Gerson Therapy doesn't work. However, the truth is quite different. Rysia's cancer had spread into her bones and, according to the specialist at the hospital, it was extensive. Yet, Rysia needed no pain killers! She went to her death without having any pain killers or chemotherapy or anything. She went into hospital at the end purely to be re-hydrated. The 'balance sheet' reads: cancer for eight years; 5 weeks bed-ridden; 40 hours in hospital; no chemotherapy; no radiotherapy; no operation. Rysia was also conscious and lucid to the end.

I am now involved with the Gerson Support Group in the UK. Rysia did a lot for the Support Group and I look after the mailing list and send out the newsletter but, thankfully, someone else writes it.

Robert Wilson

Experts Dispute Soy Formula Safety

Experts dispute the findings of a recent study on soy infant formula, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, August 15, 2001 and widely reported in the press as a vindication of soy formula. The research team, headed by Dr Brian L Strom, called the results 'reassuring' but other scientists disagree with this conclusion.

Dr Mary Enig, President Maryland Nutritionists Association, points out that researchers found higher rates of reproductive disorders, asthma and allergies in those who had received soy formula as infants. "The research team glossed over negative findings and omitted them from the abstract and conclusions, noting only that women who had been fed soy formula reported slightly longer duration of menstrual bleeding and greater discomfort with menstruation."

Other gynaecological problems, which were omitted from the main body of the report, included higher rates of cervical cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, blocked fallopian tubes, pelvic inflammatory disease and hormonal disorders. In addition, although the study did not specifically determine thyroid function, soy-fed females reported higher rates of sedentary activity and use of weight-loss medicines, thus adding new evidence to numerous scientific reports of soy-induced thyroid problems.

Experts were also critical of the design of the study, in which researchers conducted telephone interviews with 282 adults fed soy formula and 563 adults fed milk formula during controlled feeding studies at the University of Iowa between 1965-1978. "Data derived from telephone interviews, particularly interviews that ask a lot of subjective questions, cannot be used to draw any meaningful conclusions," said Dr Naomi Baumslag, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Georgetown University and President of the Women's International Public Health Network. She noted that the study provided no information on dose length or quantity, nor on the ages at which ingestion ended, all vital in a study on toxicity. "The amount of phytoestrogens in soy formula can vary as much as tenfold, depending on the way it is processed. And the soy used today is genetically engineered, which means that it has more isoflavones in it than the soy they were using twenty years ago."

"The question we should be asking is why are so many of our babies on soy?" said Dr Baumslag. "In the UK and New Zealand only 1% of babies get soy. In the US, at least 20% get soy. It can only be because of massive influence of the soy industry, because there is scientific evidence that soy formula can be damaging to newborns."

The soy formula study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the International Formula Council, was carried out under the auspices of the Fomon Infant Nutrition Unit (supported by formula manufacturers Ross Products Division of Abbot Laboratories, Nestlé, and Mead Johnson Nutritionals) at the University of Iowa. Dr Samuel Fomon played an important role in the development of soy infant formula. Early promotional efforts for soy formula described it as 'better than breast milk'.

Many of the negative findings for the soy-fed group were not 'statistically significant'. But critics point out that the group of 282 soy-fed individuals was too small for statistical significance to be achieved. "With so many infants now receiving soy formula, the small differences noted in the study can affect thousands of individuals," said Dr Enig.

In the US, an estimated 750,000 infants per year receive soy formula.

Consumer groups have voiced concern about adverse effects reported in the scientific literature, including thyroid disorders, asthma, digestive disorders, calcium deficiencies leading to rickets, high manganese levels leading to brain damage and endocrine disruption. A 1986 study in Puerto Rico found that use of soy formula was strongly correlated with premature maturation in girls. Anecdotal reports of other adverse effects include extreme emotional behaviour, learning difficulties, immune system problems, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and disrupted sexual development in boys.

US scientists who have warned about potential dangers in the use of soy for infants include phytoestrogen researcher Dr Kenneth Setchell, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, and Dr Daniel Sheehan, Director of the US Food and Drug Administration National Center for Toxicological Research. Setchell determined that babies on soy formula receive a daily exposure to isoflavones (plant-based estrogens) that is 6 to 11 times higher on a body weight basis than the dose that has undesirable hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods. His research showed that serum isoflavone levels in soy-fed infants were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than those of infants fed milk-based formula. According to Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, a New Zealand toxicologist, babies fed exclusively on soy formula receive the oestrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day.

Noting the adverse effects of similar high levels of isoflavones when given to young animals, Sheehan warned of key imprinting events affecting the development of many physical, physiological and behavioral characteristics in the human infant. Because of this evidence, both the British and New Zealand governments have issued warnings on the use of soy infant formula.

Lynn Goldman, MD, MPH, Professor of Environmental Health Science, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, also voiced concerns. In a letter to the Washington Post dated August 28, 2001, she was critical of press reports about the study and stated that "there are ample reasons to begin to question the safety of soy proteins in the diets of infants. There are several major limitations to this study."

The study follows a June 1, 2001 report published in Cancer Research which found that genistein, one of the isoflavones in soy, was more carcinogenic dose adjusted for oestrogen potency) than the synthetic oestrogen DES (routinely given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage) when exposure occurred during 'critical periods of differentiation', such as during infancy. Medical professionals insisted that DES was safe for pregnant women until they discovered that many years later, women whose mothers took DES suffered from very high rates of cervical cancer. The authors of the Cancer Research study concluded that "… the use of soy-based infant formulas in the absence of medical necessity and the marketing of soy products designed to appeal to children should be closely examined."

"Because the risks are so great, soy formula should only be used as a last resort," said Dr Enig "There are many alternatives available for babies who have difficulties with ready-mixed milk-based formula."

Further Information Your Baby

Sally Fallon,
President ,
The Weston A. Price Foundation,
4200 Wisconsin Avenue, Washington, DC 20016.
Tel: +1 202 333-4325;
E: W:


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