TOXIC OVERLOAD: BLOOD DISORDERS AND CANCERS RESULTING FROM EXPOSURE TO DRUGS, CHEMICALS AND RADIATION
- Causes and Effects
- Some Cases Investigated and Observations
- Prevention and Treatment - Conclusions
- REFERENCE SOURCES
E.W. & P.A. Priestley.
Source: Truth Campaign Magazine 8
Edward was diagnosed as suffering from severe Aplastic Anaemia in April 1986 following exposure to a number of toxic chemicals at his workplace and, although it was not recognised by us at the time, he also suffered several of the documented symptoms of chemical poisoning (memory loss, jaundice, extreme fatigue etc.) in the weeks and months before diagnosis.
We have attempted here to try to throw some light on the often confusing circumstances in which patients of blood disorders and relatives often find themselves.
Remarks from the medical profession to us from the first days of Edward's admittance to hospital until his discharge many months later, and afterwards as an outpatient, were obviously made to try to discourage us from looking for information on his condition. However this only served to spur us on.
Because Edward had to spend long periods in hospital, it was impossible for him, and very difficult for Patricia, to investigate causes of conditions like aplastic anaemia in any more detail than the sparse information given in many medical dictionaries. Information on prognosis and possible outcome was very difficult to find or glean from the medical profession. Curious remarks from the medical profession made it clear to us that there probably was information that may be worth knowing which may help with treatment and care. Remarks and "advice" such as: "You will find it very difficult to discover anything written on these conditions so do not bother to look, and if you do find something you may not like what you find". It soon became apparent that this was the case and that the information was not going to be given to us. Because Edward was more severely affected and had more serious complications than many who did not survive, there is little doubt that his survival is due in part to the information we unearthed for ourselves.
During our investigations it became increasingly obvious that serious and often fatal blood disorders resulting from exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation - with implications that these conditions are pre-cancerous - could often be avoided with public awareness. This is the reason for writing. If what we have written prevents just one case or death then the effort will have been worthwhile.
In addition, we have many others to thank for their help for finding and passing on information which they knew we were seeking. Mr. Dennis Edmundson, with the vast amount of medical papers he has accumulated plus the knowledge he has of many medical matters proved a short cut on many occasions in turning up information which could have taken us days or weeks to find. The names of relatives of victims and those in the medical profession or connected with the drug and chemical industries are not revealed for reasons which will become obvious. Indeed, the concern of some of those in the medical profession, some of whom wept behind closed doors at the unnecessary suffering, constitute another good reason for writing.
Always be prepared to speak your mind and a base man will avoid you'
- APLASTIC ANAEMIA - Total or very high level destruction of the bone marrow and the most serious of the blood disorders described in medical terminology as Blood Dyscrasias. Levels of all blood cells - red and white cells and platelets - are severely depressed or absent. Also called bone marrow depression, this condition has a very high mortality rate. Death often results from overwhelming infection due to lack of white cells, or from haemorrhage due to lack of platelets.
- AGRANULOCYTOSIS - More common than aplastic anaemia with less damage to the bone marrow and without the reduced levels of red cells and platelets. There is a reduction in Neutrophils which in severe forms is characterised by the onset of severe infections, sore throat, fever and extreme prostration. Agranulocytosis and aplastic anaemia, because of the greatly reduced immune system, could be described as AIDS induced by drugs, chemicals or radiation without the presence of HIV or other virus. Sepsis and death can be rapid (also the case with aplastic anaemia). The condition is also called severe Neutropenia and infection may not always be present at the time of diagnosis.
- THROMBOCYTOPENIA - Reduction in platelets which can be fatal due to haemorrhaging, is a common reaction to prescribed drugs, chemicals and radiation. As part of aplastic anaemia, platelets are often the first cells to be reduced due to exposure to a causative agent and bone marrow destruction, and the last to return to normal if there is a recovery.
- HAEMOLYTIC ANAEMIA - Megaloblastic Anaemia, Myelodysplastic Anaemia, Myelofibrisis and several other Anaemias with the same causes and with various effects reducing the level of red cells without the same effects on white cells and platelets, except in rare cases.
- LEUKAEMIA - And other malignancies are mentioned as they are recognised as being of the same causes as the above conditions. Many medical specialists say that all of the above conditions are pre-leukaemic. The connection between aplastic anaemia and leukaemia is often confused by the medical profession.. Although the blood disorders like aplastic anaemia have the same causes as leukaemia they are not malignant and although there is a high risk that they will eventually become malignant, not all undergo this change. We came across aplastic anaemia patients who thought they had leukaemia and had been incorrectly told so by their doctors
- PARALYSING CONDITIONS - These conditions known also as delayed Neuropathies are mentioned briefly because they have some of the same known causes as the above conditions. We came across this information when investigating the causes of the blood disorders.
CAUSES AND EFFECTSSupporting evidence from medical papers, textbooks and journals
Discussing the adverse effects on health of prescribed drugs, toxic chemicals and ionising radiation is always rather an emotive subject. Therefore, to have any credence it is important and necessary that we only quote from medical and scientific papers and textbooks written by those who are recognised as experts in their field.
When Professor G.C. de Grouchy (an internationally recognised haematologist) wrote his book "Drug Induced Blood Disorders" in 1974, he stated that his main reason for writing was to try to improve the lot of the patient. Some blood disorders are far more common than is supposed. In milder forms they may often go unnoticed and undiagnosed by the medical profession; but could still be pre-cancerous. This makes wider public awareness important and would also lead to the lot of the patient being improved.
Several in the medical profession whom we spoke to referred to the subject of the causes of the blood disorders following exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation as a "Pandora's Box". As it happened, we had already written exactly that on our files. Like the story of Pandora, the blood disorders' "Box" contains many evils and "Hope" lies at the bottom of the box. If all the evils can be released hope will come in the form of prevention and better treatment. The only way to improve the lot of the patient is to open the "Box" which many said we should leave closed, and let out all the evils.
From remarks made to ourselves by the medical profession, it is easy to see why so few individuals that we came across had bothered to look for themselves to see if what they were being told by the medical profession was correct. To most of the public the medical profession are on a pedestal and not to be questioned about either their knowledge or ethics. One consultant we saw on television summed up the position when he said that "they (the medical specialists) were not like ordinary mortals but were super intelligent". Whilst much medical research is very specialist and written in words difficult to understand, anyone who can read and look up words that they have not come across before, can understand much through common sense and observation. These are attributes not always apparent in the specialists.
A number of statements, information and "advice" we were given by the medical profession over the two years or so that Edward was a hospital patient, and in the following periods as an out-patient, were:
- "There are no known drugs or chemicals proved to cause these conditions"
- "Do not bandy your condition about"
- "There are only about twenty cases of aplastic anaemia a year in the United Kingdom"
- "With such benefits to mankind, those adversely affected by the causative agents are acceptable losses"
- "There is very little written on these conditions"
- "Medical papers on these conditions written outside the United Kingdom are unreliable" (This was said after we produced medical papers written in the United States and elsewhere.)
- "If you do find anything written on these conditions you may not like what you find"
The above are just a few of the many such remarks we had from the medical profession which we will show were all very inaccurate. Perhaps just one more quote from one consultant after we produced our evidence, is appropriate - "now you have pieced it all together correctly like a jigsaw, what are you going to do with it?"
During 1986 and part of 1987, despite stays in four hospitals mainly to treat infections contracted in hospital, it was impossible for us to obtain any prognosis for Edward's aplastic anaemia. It was suggested for a long time that a bone marrow transplant was the only form of treatment likely to be of any help. What did come to light from our investigations was that this was not so; bone marrow transplants for aplastic anaemia are rarely successful, and it is possible to make at least a partial recovery without a transplant!
Our first concern was to try to get Edward's blood counts to a level where it was possible for him to survive without blood and platelets transfusions. There are many dangers in transfusion, particularly with repeated ones. Edward contracted Hepatitis C from a transfusion late in 1986.
Hepatitis C is now much publicised with its very high risk of a fatal liver disease developing during the following years. The drugs, chemicals and radiation, being toxic to the liver, also cause destruction of the bone marrow. The information necessary to prevent Hepatitis C changing to cancer of the liver, therefore, is the same as that necessary for survival of aplastic anaemia.
Not only did we turn up information that most (if not all) cases of Blood Disorders have known causes, we also uncovered useful information on the best care of the victim if recovery or partial recovery is to be anything more than chance. Medical papers showed very clearly, with examples, that sufferers of these conditions can be very sensitive to future exposures - even years later. So to avoid what the medical profession calls a "relapse" (but which is really a re-exposure to a causative agent) it was necessary to avoid contact with all known causative agents as far as possible. Victims are never given this information, which is vital for survival, by the medical profession.
The initial few weeks of conditions like aplastic anaemia carry a very high mortality rate. If the victim survives this period there is often a period of stabilisation of the condition. However, it is during the period of stabilisation when the victim is at extremely high risk of a relapse, due to re-exposure to even a very small amount of a causative agent which is almost always fatal. Therefore, identification of the offending agents is vital.
Our medical dictionary (Mosby's 1994) says that aplastic anaemia is a failure of all the blood forming elements in the bone marrow; that it may be caused by cancer of the bone marrow or, more commonly, by destruction of the bone marrow by exposure to ionising radiation, toxic chemicals, antibiotics or other medications. It also says that an idiopathic form (of unknown cause) is rare. We agree with this, after investigation of many others similarly affected. Apart from one or two cases where information on exposure to causative agents was not available, we found that there had always been exposure to a known causative agent in the weeks or months before diagnosis. We also noted that victims or their families had little or no idea at all that there were well documented causes. Neither had there been any proper investigation into possible causes by the medical profession. In the odd case where a causative agent had been suggested by the victim or relative as a possible cause - even though the agent suggested was a known causative agent - this had been dismissed by the medical profession.
Bowman and Rand's well-known textbook on Pharmacology says that "most cases of aplastic anaemia are caused by drugs or chemicals" and that "ionising radiation has the same effect". Again our investigations into many cases shows that this is correct. This and some other textbooks and medical papers suggests that there may be two kinds of reaction; one being dose related and reversible on withdrawal of the causative agent; the other being due to a genetic or individual susceptibility which can be caused by a small exposure and which is unpredictable and often irreversible. Whilst there is some truth that previous exposure to a causative agent can hypersensitise an individual to future exposures, a survey carried out on American troops in World War Two (Custer 1946) in the Pacific, showed that this was not the case with thousands of troops given the anti-malarial drug Quinacrine, which is known to cause bone marrow depression. The resulting fifty-seven cases of aplastic anaemia showed that the effect of the drug was dose related and nothing to do with individual susceptibility or genetic propensity. From our investigations it is certain that many cases which are attributed to individual susceptibility or genetics are in fact misdiagnoses because of poor investigation, or non-investigation, of simultaneous exposure to more than one causative agent. This makes it appear, without further investigation, that a very small amount of one causative agent is responsible when in fact a larger exposure to another agent is the main cause.
Harrison's internationally known book on Internal Medicine sums up the position very well when it says that the percentage of cases where a causative agent is found for aplastic anaemia may vary with the vigour with which a causative agent is sought. We agree with this, and add that in some cases, obvious large exposure to a known causative agent was deliberately overlooked.
The importance of seeking out causes for survival and recovery has already been emphasised and has been recognised for many years. We have a French medical journal "Revue de Therapeutics" dated 1938 which, even at that time, stressed the importance of seeking out the causes of aplastic anaemia such as toxic chemicals and radiation. Given that prevention is always better than cure, seeking out causes of those already affected and highly susceptible to further exposures cannot be in question, but this is unfortunately never done.
Professor G.C. de Grouchy, in his book on Drug Induced Blood Disorders, notes that the blood disorders due to adverse drug reaction are very important because of the very high mortality rate and that, in cases where a drug is the cause, victims should carry a medical card stating that the offending drug should not be prescribed in future if at all possible. He also mentions that preferably, as so many drugs are documented to cause blood disorders, all drugs should be avoided if possible. He does qualify that this may not be possible as victims are immuno-compromised and are therefore quite likely to contract a life-threatening infection. Avoiding contact with people with infections is therefore very important for victims, as the side-effects of a drug needed to treat the infection may cause a relapse. Professor de Grouchy, with his vast experience of many patients over his lifetime, observed that over fifty per cent of cases of aplastic anaemia were caused by drugs. He also mentions chemicals and radiation as important causes. Following our investigations we agree with Professor de Grouchy that around fifty per cent of cases we investigated were caused by prescribed drugs. The other fifty per cent were caused by toxic chemicals or radiation. There are probably no idiopathic cases. As the blood disorders are pre-leukaemic and pre-cancerous, the question is posed - just what percentage of all cases of leukaemia and cancers are also caused by the same agents?
E.M. Davies, in his textbook Adverse Drug Reactions, observes that with drug induced aplastic anaemia the mortality rate is about seventy per cent within five years. We found that one hundred per cent of those who knew their condition was caused by drugs did not survive. Virtually all those who knew the cause of their condition, or it was suspected by the medical profession that they knew, regardless of what the cause was, did not survive. Death could probably have been prevented in the majority of these cases if the victims had been given the correct medical care and information on how to survive.
There are clear contradictions in some medical papers. Some experts say they cannot trace causes in more than fifty per cent of cases whilst other experts cannot understand why others cannot trace what they see as obvious causes. Here, there is a strong possibility that it is a case of "those who pay the piper calls the tune". Most medical research and papers are financed by the companies producing and profiting from the known causative agents.
Apart from studies involving large numbers of people which prove beyond any doubt the cause and effect (like the one described previously of American Pacific troops in WW2), the only way to show which medical papers and books are correct is to investigate individual cases for yourself,. This is exactly what we did. Some of these investigations and the circumstances surrounding them are discussed in a later section.
Of the many drugs documented to cause blood disorders, e.g. antibiotics, tranquillisers, diuretics, anti-inflammatories and many others, perhaps the anti-biotic Chloramphenicol is the best documented causative agent. This drug was introduced in the United States in 1949 and by 1952 medical papers were appearing implicating the drug as a causative agent of aplastic anaemia. It was about this time that the United States also introduced a register of Blood Dyscrasias (there is to our knowledge no such register in the United Kingdom). In keeping with the tradition that it always proves difficult to get doctors to notify any adverse drug reactions (probably less than 5% in the United Kingdom), it proved extremely difficult to get doctors to report serious and fatal blood disorders as adverse reactions to drugs. However, enough cases were notified for it to be impossible to overlook the fact that Chloramphenicol was a cause of aplastic anaemia. Proof of this was soon shown when, on knowledge of the very serious side-effects of the drug, it was used much less often and with greater care, resulting in a dramatic reduction in the total number of cases of aplastic anaemia.
The above proof of a cause and effect shows that what we were told by the medical profession, namely that there are no drugs or chemicals proved to cause aplastic anaemia, was untrue. We had already found by this time it was also untrue that there was very little written on the subject of blood dyscrasias. There have been countless medical papers written on the subject since 1888 (this being around the time that many causative agents were being invented and introduced).
In The American Journal of Pathology 1949, which includes a section on the effects of radiation on the atomic bomb victims, there is also positive proof of cause and effect. Page 863 of the Journal shows this clearly when it describes those dying in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the third to sixth weeks following the dropping of the bombs and also those surviving the clinical symptoms. It states that not only were there symptoms of radiation effects, such as epilation (hair loss), but also the manifestations of aplastic anaemia consequent upon destruction of the bone marrow. Vitamin deficiencies were also noted in victims. The textbooks and papers mentioned earlier, which stated that drugs, chemical and ionising radiation have the same effect, were later shown to be accurate when laboratory tests showed exactly the same vitamin deficiencies in victims exposed to toxic chemicals. The American Journal of Pathology on the Atomic Bomb Victims also notes that the aplastic anaemia observed in the victims was exactly the same as that caused by drugs.
Bowman and Rand's Textbook on Pharmacology notes that the incidence of cancer in the atomic bomb victims was high, and higher the nearer the victims were to the source of the blast. So we have proof positive with the atomic bomb victims that the nearer the victim was to the source of the blast the higher the degree of bone marrow damage and later corresponding higher levels in the incidence of cancers. This also shows that blood disorders documented to be caused by drugs, chemicals and radiation have the same causes as leukaemia and other cancers. Furthermore, this evidence shows that those with blood disorders severe enough to be diagnosed have a noticeably higher risk of the exposure developing into a malignant condition. A survey done in the USA on 156 cases of severe aplastic anaemia showed a 26 fold incidence of thyroid cancer over the rest of the population. There are similar higher incidences of other cancers in aplastic anaemia victims.
Benzene is stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a carcinogen with no known safe level. All medical textbooks and papers that discuss the effects of this chemical agree that benzene causes not only cancers but also blood disorders and leukaemia. It is not surprising therefore that chemicals and drugs containing benzene, such as the phenothiazines, are documented to cause these conditions. Medical textbooks as far back as the 1960's state that the presence of the benzene ring chemical structure implicates a drug as a probable cause of aplastic anaemia and other blood disorders.
Whilst being the most common cause of blood disorders due to drug and chemical exposure, benzene is not the only offending agent either causing or contributing to these conditions. "Chemistry in Action" by Michael Freemantle (page 600) states that the halogens chlorine, bromine, fluorine and iodine are toxic. These alone and in varying degrees can also cause blood disorders. When combined with benzene in drugs, it is noted in pharmacology books that these drugs are the ones best documented to cause blood disorders. Fluorine is the most reactive of these chemicals and it is documented that changing chlorine for fluorine in a drug can increase the toxicity and potency of a drug many times. With the phenothiazine antipsychotics, for example, the fluoridated Trifluperazine is 25 times as toxic as the chlorinated Chlorpromazine. It is clear here for everyone, but in particular for those who already have a blood disorder, that when chlorine and fluorine are added to tap water the effect of a drug might be greater than stated in a drug book.
Acting on this information, we put Edward on bottled spring water. Perhaps it is a good point to note here that the restaurants at Westminster provide bottled spring water for members of Parliament in addition to organic food.
That drugs may cause leukaemia and other cancers without first causing a blood disorder serious enough to be diagnosed has been touched upon in some books but it seems there is a hesitancy to discuss this problem. That a chemical can cause leukaemia and other cancers without first causing a diagnosed blood disorder is shown very clearly in the case of the chemical Lindane, an organochlorine pesticide. Blood disorders like aplastic anaemia, leukaemia and other cancers are very well documented to be caused by this chemical and compensation has been paid to victims. Letters we have from the Health and Safety Executive and answers we have from questions to Government experts in questions in Parliament all confirm that this is so. This is evidence again that all the drugs, chemicals and radiation that are documented to cause blood disorders are also capable of causing leukaemia and other cancers.
Harrison's book "The Principles of Internal Medicine" notes that the drug Phenytoin, which is used for epilepsy and which is documented to cause aplastic anaemia, has also been observed to cause lymphatic conditions. The book observes that although the disease regressed in most cases when the patient stopped taking the drug, a significant fraction proceeded to develop Hodgkin's Disease, i.e. cancer of the lymphatic system. Aplastic anaemia victims have also been observed to have a much higher than normal risk of developing Hodgkin's Disease.
Drug books used daily by doctors when prescribing drugs in the United Kingdom, such as the British National Formulary (BNF) (written by the British Medical Association and the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain), now show that certain drugs, for example Chloramphenicol, cause irreversible aplastic anaemia leading to leukaemia. It has taken about forty-five years for effects other than blood dyscrasias to be admitted even though these effects have been known all those years. It will probably take as long again for the pharmaceutical industry, the medical profession and governments to admit what is obvious - that all drugs that are documented to cause blood dyscrasias can also cause leukaemia and other cancers without always causing a blood disorder serious enough to be diagnosed before the development of a malignancy.
It will be obvious by now to the reader just why blood disorders resulting from exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation is such a taboo subject. Not only are people seriously or fatally affected with blood disorders but these blood disorders point to the causes of vast numbers affected by leukaemia and other cancers. Because of the relatively short latent period between exposure and the development of a blood disorder, proof of the cause and effect is comparatively easy to show and it is this effect that the medical profession, manufacturers of causative agents and governments try to keep from the public at nearly any cost. This situation is at the heart of the bribes to the medical profession from the drug and chemical industry which has had so much publicity over recent years. From our own investigations we found that these bribes were very common and they are, of course, sweeteners to the medical profession to prescribe more drugs than is necessary and not to inform patients of the side-effects.
We now look at evidence that proves that very large numbers of people are being affected, the effects often going unnoticed by the individual and overlooked by the medical profession.
Piscotto wrote in 1969, after taking blood samples from his patients given the tranquillising drug Phenothiazine, that of the 6,200 patients he sampled, about 2,000 developed some level of bone marrow damage and leucopenia which in ordinary circumstances would never have been detected. He also found five cases of agranulocytosis which had not previously been diagnosed and which were probably in the early stages before a serious or fatal infection set in. This survey, it should be noted, studies the effects of just one of hundreds of drugs known to cause bone marrow depression. What we do not know is the actual figures of all those affected with all of these other drugs, but it must be a very large number. We also do not know how many of those who have taken a drug known to cause bone marrow damage go on to develop a malignancy which may have been triggered by a drug taken years before. What cannot be denied is that large numbers are being affected, often unknown to them. It is more than just coincidence that the increase in the use of drugs, chemicals and radiation coincides with the increase in incidence of cancers in the period since World War Two. Figures for the incidence of leukaemia in the USA confirm a steady and rapid increase in recent decades.
On 11th January 1989, following our investigations into one case of aplastic anaemia, questions were asked in Parliament (see Hansard) about causes, numbers affected etc., of aplastic anaemia. It was stated in one answer that over 1,000 cases had been reported associated with nearly 200 prescribed drugs. What the actual numbers are was not stated. Over 1,000 could be any number at all and it must also be borne in mind again that only a very small percentage of adverse drug reactions are ever reported at all. It was also stated by Mr. Roger Freeman, the Government spokesman on Health at the time, that all cases were thoroughly investigated by the medical profession to try to determine the cause. The stated causes given by the Government experts we found were accurate and we investigated many cases which showed that the victims had been exposed to the causative agents listed by the Government. This was all contrary to what we were told by the medical profession that there were "no known causes" etc. The numbers of victims given by Government statistics also showed that what we were told by the medical profession about there being 20 or so cases a year was untrue. It may be that Mr Roger Freeman was told by the medical profession that all cases were investigated to determine a possible cause, but in none of the many cases we looked at had any attempt been made to determine a possible cause, including Edward's own case.
We have a letter from the Health and Safety Executive in reply to some enquiries about the possible cause of Edward's illness which lists a number of chemicals documented to cause aplastic anaemia. This list is also correct as we were to find many cases following exposure to these chemicals. Because individual cases are widely dispersed, investigations as to the possible cause is haphazard to say the least, with the expected unreliable conclusions being drawn. The monitoring of the American Pacific troops in World War Two and the atomic bomb victims shows very accurately a clear cause and effect which is often overlooked in individual cases. We found great disparity between what the medical profession told us and what it said in medical papers and textbooks, which were confirmed by Government experts and agencies. This was further reinforced by our own investigations.
Some medical textbooks and papers observe that a viral infection may cause or contribute to blood disorders along with the drugs, chemicals and ionising radiation. Of the cases we were able to investigate we found no cases where a virus alone appeared to be the cause. We found one or two cases where a virus was found which signalled the end of medical investigations. In these cases there was invariably some exposure to a known causative agent which was either overlooked or not investigated. In one case, which was typical, a drug known to cause bone marrow depression was given to a patient with a viral hepatitis. The drug was contra-indicated (discouraged for use) in the BNF drug book for anyone with hepatic impairment so was wrongly prescribed. The rapid and horrific reaction to the drug, culminating in aplastic anaemia, showed clearly that there was good reason to suspect that the drug was largely responsible for the fatal blood disorder. However, this was completely overlooked by the medical profession.
Another incident involving ionising radiation that shows clearly cause and effect was the accident at Chernobyl. Here again, as with the atomic bomb victims, a number of those near the source of the contamination had their bone marrow destroyed. Unsuccessful attempts were made to treat them with bone marrow transplants.
The first medical paper we can trace on aplastic anaemia was written by Paul Ehrlich in 1888, who was experimenting with chemotherapy which carries a high risk of destruction of the bone marrow. By 1898 papers had been written on some of the causes but since that time there has been a general suppression of information on the known causes.
Information that all pesticides can be dangerous is shown in a letter we have from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food dated 17th January 1989, following enquiries about Edward's exposure to these chemicals. The letter states that "all pesticides by their very nature are a danger to both human health and the environment". It also states that MAFF do not test pesticides for safety before allowing them for use but assess the manufacturers' data on safety. In the United States it was found that the manufacturers' data had sometimes been falsified. This admittance of pesticide danger is not what is trotted out in the press and other media by MAFF and other government agencies.
We were sent a batch of research from a professor in Germany which includes information about benzene from, amongst others, The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It states that Benzene is an ubiquitous environmental pollutant and chronic exposure causes aplastic anaemia, leukaemia and other cancers. As benzene is added to unleaded petrol, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, paints, solvents and may other toxic products, it is perhaps not surprising that the professor sending us the material was unable to obtain any further research finance. He sent his best wishes for our endeavours.
Many other papers, books and other sources could be quoted but we hope that these included make clear the truth without unnecessary repetition. In the following section, whilst discussing individual cases which we investigated, we will quote from some of these other sources and show the connection in some cases with this literature.
SOME CASES INVESTIGATED AND OBSERVATIONSAlthough most of the cases we investigated or came across were different, there were underlying similarities in that the symptoms associated with adverse effects of drugs and chemicals were often experienced by sufferers in the period of weeks and months between exposure and diagnosis. It is the relatively short latent period, mostly two to seven months, between exposure and the symptoms being so severe as to force the sufferer to seek medical help that makes the causes of blood dyscrasias comparatively easy to spot. Not all victims experienced all the symptoms but many suffered one or more of those documented in medical literature. In some, where relatives were traced after the death of a victim, no symptoms could be ascertained. Many of those we investigated had not realised at the time that the symptoms were connected with their underlying condition and were a possible warning of a more serious condition to follow. Indeed, obtaining a history at the time that these symptoms are most apparent can be difficult due to the often neurotoxic affects of the causative agents, such as confusion and memory loss before and during the early stages of the illness.
Although by no means all the victims remembered having a rash, this is a well documented symptom which often precedes the diagnosis of a serious blood disorder. Edward and several others we investigated did experience rashes prior to diagnosis. Other repeating symptoms in those we investigated were nausea, jaundice (due to toxic liver overload), extreme fatigue, breathlessness (just before diagnosis due to severe anaemia), impotence and headaches. These are well documented effects of drug, chemical and radiation exposure.
Edward's aplastic anaemia followed exposure to a number of toxic chemicals at his work in the water industry. He experienced some confusion, memory loss, severe jaundice in the later stages, rashes and inability to concentrate from about six months before diagnosis.
Diagnosis took about ten days after hospital admission. Following diagnosis, there was intense searching by the medical profession for a possible cause. Then, with no explanation, the searching stopped before any cause was established, and we were told by a consultant "not to bandy Edward's condition about".
A list of chemicals Edward came into contact with at work was supplied later by his employers, the water industry, but it was admitted in a letter accompanying the list that the list was not complete. This was because "labels had fallen off the drums of chemicals and these had been destroyed".
Edward does remember two chemicals not included on the list but we do not have the brand names. One was an industrial solvent and the other an insecticidal/fungicidal liquid used in a power washer. Both of these chemicals could well have been implicated as possible causes. Although a complete list of chemicals Edward worked with could have been supplied, it was not. His employers denied that withholding this information was a cover-up.
As a complete list of chemicals has never been supplied to either us or the medical profession, it is clear that no proper investigation took place.
This non-investigation of causes was a regular feature in all the cases we investigated except a very few where cause and effect was accepted. This is contrary to assertions in Parliament to the questions asked on 11th January, 1989, when it was stated that all cases were thoroughly investigated.
A copy of a letter, dated 9th September, from Hammersmith Hospital where Edward was a patient at that time, to Halifax Hospital where he was first diagnosed, sums up his medical history from diagnosis and remarks that "although no cause for Edward's condition was found, he was exposed to a number of chemicals at his work". Those writing this letter at Hammersmith would have no idea perhaps, that there had been no proper search for a possible cause at Halifax.
It is of interest to note that on the incomplete list of chemicals Edward came into contact with at work were herbicides like Agent Orange (as used in the Vietnam war - for which the thousands of America troops exposed have been paid compensation). There are also toxic chemicals on the list supplied by Chipman Chemicals of which Mr. Dennis Thatcher is a director. There is, perhaps, a conflict of interests here with a Prime Minister's husband supplying products to a government-owned industry and this may be another reason why investigations into the possible causes of Edward's condition were mysteriously dropped and us being told "not to bandy his condition about".
During 1986/87 Edward spent long periods in four hospitals, two in Halifax, Leeds General and Hammersmith London, with severe aplastic anaemia, complicated by some life-threatening infections contracted whilst in these hospitals. He had very bad Aspergillus Pneumonia with a collapsed left lung which he contracted from another patient at Leeds General. This took several months to treat at Hammersmith Hospital. He also contracted several other serious infections, including septicaemia, which were life threatening, in addition to which he had many episodes of haemorrhage, some spontaneous and internal, which could have proved fatal. In late 1986 he contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion. This virus carries the high risk of developing into a fatal liver disease in subsequent years. Many of these complications and infections were due to poor hospital care and may well have contributed to making the aplastic anaemia more severe for a longer period, as drugs for these infections were documented to cause aplastic anaemia.
Edward was given a course of an "experimental" drug, Antilymphocyte Immunoglobulin, to treat the aplastic anaemia (the drug has now been withdrawn with no explanation). This drug, derived from horse serum was used to try to stop transplant rejection by lowering the immune system to near zero. At the end of this course of the drug, whilst Edward's immune system was still very low, a leukaemia patient with Aspergillus Pneumonia was sent by the hospital staff to play chess with him. It was inevitable that Edward would contract the infection.
The drug he was treated with for aspergillus was Amphotericin which was probably the best drug for the infection but is documented to cause aplastic anaemia. There is little doubt that his many months at Hammersmith following this episode with no alternative but to treat him with high levels of Amphotericin contributed greatly towards delaying any recovery of his bone marrow. This is one probable reason why Edward's blood count took about ten years to return to near normal levels.
Medical neglect also contributed greatly towards Edward developing Septicaemia (blood poisoning). Halifax and Hammersmith hospitals disagreed about who should take out Edward's second Hickman line (a plastic tube inserted into a vein near to the heart which exits from the chest and is used to insert drugs, transfusions, take blood samples etc.), which had been in for about six months. This line was no longer in regular use and was a constant potential source of infection. Patricia, being an SRN, had warned over several weeks of the danger of septicaemia if the line was not removed. So it was particularly annoying when this happened, necessitating a further two weeks in hospital. As Edward had already had many weeks in hospital with drips inserted while he had no Hickman line, most of his veins had collapsed resulting in two painful weeks with many attempts made to insert cannulas that sometimes only lasted a few hours.
Again, drugs for septicaemia are very toxic. Therefore, infections like this should be avoided if at all possible in those particularly at risk.
When he was first admitted to hospital and after diagnosis Edward was visited by a senior member of the hospital staff who said he should enjoy his relative comfort at that time as he was in for "a very rough ride". We discovered that poor hospital care and inappropriate treatment for the victims of aplastic anaemia was not unusual and was obviously known by this member of staff.
Through this period (1986-87) Edward was often very ill and in isolation for long periods, so it was difficult for us to make any investigative headway with other victims save for a few other cases of aplastic anaemia.
At Leeds General (May-June 1986) we observed two other sufferers of aplastic anaemia:
Case no. 2 (Edward being no.1) was a very mild case in a young man who had taken an anti-malarial drug during an African trip. This case was without complications and resolved in a week or two. These drugs (as already mentioned in the large scale survey of American Pacific troops in World War Two) are very well known to cause aplastic anaemia.
Case no. 3 was a timber worker with a severe case of aplastic anaemia. We did not realise it at the time but the chemicals used in timber treatment are also well documented to be causative agents. These chemicals were to crop up many times later causing not only blood dyscrasias but also leukaemia and other cancers.
Following Edward's transfer to Hammersmith in May 1986 he was in isolation for several months with the severe aplastic anaemia and aspergillus pneumonia:
Case no. 4 was in the next isolation room to Edward. We did not actually see this man but we could not help gathering information through overhearing staff conversations about some of the surrounding circumstances. It appears that he was a trainee doctor who had been taking a drug in some trials for a pharmaceutical company when he developed the aplastic anaemia and died. This was confirmed later when his case was mentioned in a book called "The Health Conspiracy - How Doctors, the Drug Industry and the Government Undermine Our Health" by Dr. Joe Collier, a lecturer in pharmacology.
During Edward's transfer to an open ward at Hammersmith, a few other victims of aplastic anaemia were observed, two of whom we were able to investigate as we were able to speak to them at some length:
Case no. 5 was a middle aged woman who had been prescribed the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Brufen; again documented to cause blood disorders. This woman died despite several bone marrow transplants from an identical twin sister. This told us that there was more to a successful transplant than just having a good genetic match. Transplant rejection is often due to sensitisation and rejection caused by pre-transplant blood transfusions; though this is not a problem in leukaemia patients.
Case no. 6 was a man of about 30 years who became ill following a period when he had worked sticking down floor tiles with a solvent adhesive. We had contact with this man both in and out of hospital for some time but have lost touch now after he moved house, so we do not know the outcome of the illness. The cause of his aplastic anaemia was initially identified by the medical investigation to be the benzene-related substance, Toluene, in the adhesive. This substance is documented to cause aplastic anaemia. Then, without explanation, the victim was told that he was to forget that the solvent was the cause. This echoed Edward's experience when first diagnosed and the search for a cause was abandoned with no explanation, being told later not to bandy his condition about. This victim made it known to us that he was well aware that all was not as it should be and that inappropriate treatment is given in such cases.
Whilst Edward was a patient at Leeds General Hospital a fund was set up by friends and relatives to help patients locally. Patricia named the fund the Bone Marrow Disease Fund. We eventually raised several thousand pounds which paid for many items - televisions, bedchairs and other items to help make life a little more bearable for the victims and relatives staying overnight with very sick patients.
Having no other way of contacting sufferers, except perhaps in hospitals, there had seemed little or no prospect of finding out if there really were only about 20 or so cases a year in total in the United Kingdom as we had been told. Fortunately, because of the publicity raised in the press, the Fund was instrumental in connecting us with a number of victims and relatives who were able to talk to us at length about the possible causes of their conditions. We needed this information in order to get some idea of Edward's chance of survival. Had there been any who were as severely affected as Edward who had survived or recovered? It very soon became apparent that there were far more sufferers than the twenty or so a year!
The Fund had not been going very long before we encountered some opposition and pressure from certain figures in the medical profession and from a national leukaemia charity. They wished us to stop our help and support of victims and relatives. Pressure was put on hospital staff to refuse help from us for the victims and relatives but we still managed to help to buy some medical equipment as well as comforts for victims and relatives. This opposition eventually ceased a few years later when we stopped fund raising .
One reason given for the opposition was that we were diverting funds from research into possible cures and should not be concerning ourselves with support for victims and their families, nor with prevention of the conditions, despite knowing the causes in most cases.
Medical charities are controlled by the medical profession and therefore by the drug and chemical industries. It is they that actually cause the vast majority of blood disorders, leukaemia and other cancers. It is perhaps not surprising then that we experienced such opposition from those profiting initially by causing the conditions and then again by selling the treatment. Prevention and the best care and treatment cannot be achieved without informing the public and victims of the causes. This is the very information the drug/ chemical and nuclear industries, medical profession and governments want to keep from the public.
Case no. 7 was the first person to contact us through the Fund publicity. This was a middle-aged woman who died about a year after we met her. According to the medical profession there was no question as to the cause of the anaemia - prolonged chemo/radiotherapy for breast cancer. Cancer treatment chemicals and radiation are amongst the most common and well known causes of blood disorders.
Case no. 8 was a young woman who had moderate to severe aplastic anaemia. On investigation, she had been diagnosed with a virus infection but also had used considerable amounts of wood treatment chemicals in a house she and her fiancé had bought. She experienced some of the symptoms documented to be caused by the chemicals in the period preceding diagnosis. There was no investigation by the medical profession as to the possible cause and the case was probably put down to being idiopathic (of unknown origin). To our knowledge, following a critical period after diagnosis, this young woman is alive and well and she and her family have some information from us on care and prevention. Also in this case we noted, as with Edward, the victim went on to develop long term severe bone and joint problems resulting in a knee joint repair.
It was admitted by the medical profession to us that Edward's severe joint problems was caused by long term effects of the drugs he was given in hospital. The problems started about eighteen months after diagnosis of the aplastic anaemia. We were refused information as to which drugs had caused the problem but now feel sure that Hydrocortisone was responsible which was given daily in large doses for long periods before platelet transfusions in 1986-87. This was given in order to dampen down anaphylactic (severe shock) reactions. This drug is documented to cause osteoporosis as a side-effect.
Case no. 9 was a middle-aged woman whose case was similar to case no. 5. She was also treated with Brufen. She also died. The medical profession recognised this as the cause of the aplastic anaemia but death was put down to an accidental overdose of tablets. This was not accurate, however, as the woman had phoned us before she died and was obviously in a suicidal mood due not only to her long term painful illness but also largely due to very poor treatment by some medical staff. It should be emphasised here that none of the victims survived in cases where the medical staff were aware or suspected that the victim was aware of the cause of their condition! This remained true with all subsequent cases that we investigated. Treatment for these conditions, especially if the victim knows or suspects the cause is poor, to say the least; to the point where they may be driven to suicide. This was the first case we had come across where a victim took their own life but many were driven to the brink.
Case no. 10 was a middle-aged woman diagnosed with myelodysplastic anaemia. In this case the dangers of subsequent exposures even years after the initial exposure was highlighted. These cases are without doubt many of those said by the medical profession to be caused by genetic or individual susceptibility. Whilst the description may not be a complete untruth, the fact is the victim has been hypersensitised by one exposure to future ones. In this particular case the woman had a moderate and seemingly irreversible anaemia following exposure to a large amount of industrial solvent used to clean paint spilt on a carpet. Although the treatment for anaemia was of no help, the problem was not incapacitating to a large degree and did not require transfusions. As usual there had been no investigations, or history taken, by the medical profession to try to ascertain the cause. Therefore correct treatment for the anaemia was not thoroughly investigated.
About ten years later, whilst still suffering from the anaemia, the woman used large amounts of wood preservatives on fences and a garden shed and sprayed some fruit trees with an insecticide. These exposures were followed by a dramatic collapse of the bone marrow leading to the diagnosis of myelodysplastic anaemia. Again, these exposures were not noticed or investigated by the medical profession. When the woman later showed her consultant how we had worked out the causes of her condition, he admitted that our conclusions were correct and he had not noticed before that these chemicals caused the blood disorders. He also commented that he had recently treated two young men who had died of leukaemia after working with wood preservative chemicals. Following the collapse of the bone marrow the woman needed blood transfusions for the rest of her life. Further exposures to causative agents during a trip to Africa, which we had warned against, led to even worse depression of the bone marrow with both white cells and platelets now affected. The condition ended with a fatal infection.
Case no. 11 was a middle-aged woman who suffered moderate anaemia and very bad allergies. Allergies are documented to follow blood dyscrasias and bone marrow and immune system damage. When we met her, this woman had been ill for about 30 years. Her health problems and anaemia had followed a period at her work when she was exposed to benzene several times a week. Numerous doctors and specialists had tried to investigate her health problems over the years, none of whom had been of any help. She was finally sent to an allergy specialist who suggested that the only way she could live without the allergic effects was to live in a plastic bubble away from all pollutants. Through all the years of investigations and unsuccessful treatments, which had included operations which found nothing, not one doctor had thought to obtain a history of the onset of the illness which followed the benzene exposure. It took us about ten minutes to elicit a history.
This woman's allergies were so severe that merely drinking or washing in tap water caused her to break out in a rash. This was due to the added chemicals and stray pollutants in the water supply. She drank distilled water from glass bottles as even the minute traces from bottled water in plastic bottles affected her. She also found some local spring water in which she could wash without having a reaction.
We suspected that the large chemical works nearby may be contributing to her condition. She informed us that she had not been away from the area since she became ill. She then booked a holiday in Portugal for two weeks. On return she reported that during the second week she began to feel better than she had done for many years. The last time we saw this woman she was still suffering multiple allergies but had improved because of the knowledge of the cause of her condition.
This was not the only case we found which included allergies following exposure to drugs and chemicals which are documented to cause bone marrow and immune system damage, including one case in which a young man using benzene died of cancer who had done the same job as case no. 11. Edward's own experience of allergies, which started to develop about 15 months after he was diagnosed, is also similar to case no.11 in that an item of food, drink or environmental pollutant exposure, such as paints, trigger off a reaction which can take about ten days to subside. This can make identification of triggers difficult as the effects of exposure to one offending agent can overlap the effects of another leading to constant reactions like headaches, sickness etc..
Although normally a rather taboo subject in the media, we did notice from time to time some reports of aplastic anaemia in the press. One article in The Observer reported on the giving of a drug to third world children but which was banned in the West and is documented to cause aplastic anaemia. This and several other news items suggested that victims of aplastic anaemia may be being used as human guinea pigs in medical and military experiments.
This was confirmed when the words "guinea pig" were observed written in the hospital medical notes of one case of aplastic anaemia we investigated. When questioned by relatives as to why this was written in the notes, the answer, after some hesitation from the medical staff, was that they wanted to know if the victim had ever kept guinea pigs. NO medical papers of the hundreds written on the subject have ever mentioned that there is any evidence that contact with guinea pigs has any connection with blood disorders! It does however show the disregard some in the medical profession have for the victims of these conditions.
Because the blood dyscrasias are deliberately caused by chemical and nuclear weapons and because the conditions are pre-cancerous there is naturally much interest in these victims for medical and military research. Much has been exposed now of the deliberate contamination of the public with nuclear products to observe the effects on large numbers of people. This includes feeding radioactive products to hospital patients in meals and injecting nuclear products into the placentas of pregnant women to observe the effects on the baby after birth.
Anyone looking at the research papers written on aplastic anaemia cannot fail to observe that the researchers often note a difference in the effects of many drugs on different ethnic groups. Some medical and military research has been carried out on large numbers of people into the possibility of producing viable ethnic chemical or nuclear weapons. During the 1980s it was exposed that large numbers of babies' heads from India were shipped to hospitals in twenty-three Western nations for experiments into the possibility of producing weapons which would be selective of race. Research Edward was involved in at Hammersmith into genetics and transplant rejection could also have been used to help make ethnic chemical weapons and this hospital was one of those publicised as using pregnant women in experiments. There is also a considerable amount of evidence to show that where insufficient numbers of victims with conditions like aplastic anaemia are available for use in medical and military experiments, the conditions are being induced deliberately to create the human guinea pigs. Whilst Edward was an out-patient, staff exclaimed their horror to us about what was happening there and how powerless they were to do anything.
In addition to cases we were finding with a diagnosed condition, we found far greater numbers who had no diagnosed condition but who had been exposed to a lesser amount of a causative agent and who were suffering long term debilitating illnesses. Such effects as allergies, extreme fatigue, headaches, sickness, diarrhoea, rashes, anorexia and many other similar conditions are documented as symptoms of chronic exposure to the causative agents of the blood disorders. Because there was rarely, if ever, any investigation by the medical profession into the causes of these conditions, many were told that their problems were "all in the mind". In many cases drugs for psychosis were prescribed. This invariably made their conditions worse as tranquillising drugs contain the same or similar chemicals to those causing their illness in the first place and are documented to cause serious and fatal blood disorders which are pre-cancerous. We have never met one person who was told in advance by a doctor that such drugs can have serious or fatal side-effects. Moreover, if such an effect does occur, the victim is never made aware of the cause.
A leukaemia researcher from the same "charity" which had tried to stop our Fund visited us. She said she was looking at cases of aplastic anaemia and that she may be able to help us. However, her questions had nothing to do with aplastic anaemia or other blood disorders and we got the impression that she was only fishing to see what we knew. We showed her a number of our questionnaires which came back from victims and relatives. With no prompting from us, all showed exposures to known causative agents. She looked alarmed at this and admitted that she had interviewed several of the same victims as us. She too had noticed the exposure to known causative agents.
One disturbing fact that came to light was that multinational drug and chemical companies had names and addresses of victims of both blood dyscrasias and leukaemia. This could explain the anonymous threats which some victims and relatives received. The most likely source of the leak of this information, we think, is through medical charities and research organisations which seem to have access to information on victims from hospitals. We were on the receiving end of some anonymous threats ourselves.
Case no. 12 contacted us from London after his sister had sent him a copy of an article Edward had written about aplastic anaemia and its causes which had been printed in the local press. It transpired that he had been diagnosed as having aplastic anaemia in the 1940s after exposure to mercury at his work. Mercury is a known causative agent. His was a very mild case which resolved after a few blood transfusions and he had no complications. Even so, he was the first we had found who had survived a long time. It was unusual that this case knew the cause of his condition but we understand that he had not spoken to anyone about his condition before.
Case no. 13 was a teacher who had been diagnosed as having severe aplastic anaemia a few months before he contacted us. He taught crafts and his passion was for model making. Consequently, he used solvent adhesives daily in most lessons as well as at home in the evenings and at weekends. There was, therefore, large regular uncontrolled exposure to known causative agents. This man was very ill during the two years or so we were in touch but we have now lost contact with him so we do not know the outcome.
There are similar cases noted in medical papers. Professor Edward Gordon-Smith notes in one paper that solvent abusers are at a higher risk than normal of developing a blood disorder. Furthermore, one of the answers we had to the questions asked in Parliament on 11th January 1989 stated that solvent abusers have been observed to develop aplastic anaemia.
Case no. 14 is one of many not fully investigated by us but found after the event. It is just one of many such cases, several of which were reported in the press. This was a fatal blood disorder following the injection of gold salts for arthritis. Despite being one of the best documented causes of blood disorders, no warning was given of the possible side-effects. One press report documented how the family of a woman being given gold injections had begged the doctors to stop because of the terrible effects it was having. Sadly, more injections were given and the woman died of aplastic anaemia.
Case no. 15 came to us following a newspaper article by Edward in the local press which mentioned arthritic drugs as a cause of aplastic anaemia and other blood disorders. This woman had been prescribed Brufen. Her experience was like that of many. She became moderately anaemic and was rushed into hospital. Her arthritic drug was withdrawn with little explanation. She was then given a few blood transfusions and was discharged about three weeks later.
For every case of a definite fatal blood disorder being diagnosed we found substantially large numbers like this one with either what appears to be a full or partial recovery. In most cases there seems to be a poorer level of health after an apparent recovery of the bone marrow. With regards to the total numbers of those less severely affected, it appears that aplastic anaemia and other blood disorders are only the tip of a very big iceberg.
Case no. 16 was a teenager who died of aplastic anaemia having had contact at work with chemicals, including Analine. (In another case we found - not reported here - compensation was paid when Aniline was implicated in a case of aplastic anaemia after we supplied the victim with the documented effects of the chemical.) The history given to us by his relatives was that he had not had a large exposure to the chemical but was just recovering from hepatitis when he was prescribed the drug Ponstan (mefenamic acid) for headaches. The drug was contra-indicated and documented to cause blood disorders in the BNF drug book, so was wrongly prescribed. His reactions were rapid and severe. The drug was therefore withdrawn by his doctor and the rest were retrieved from his parents after admission to hospital.
At one point, it was denied by the medical profession that the drug had ever been prescribed. However, subsequent production of a copy of the prescription proved that it had. In this case, as far as we are aware, the family is still, years later, waiting for an official explanation and report from the hospital. Like most others we contacted or who contacted us, the family had little idea that there are well documented causes of these conditions and again there has been no investigation by the medical profession into the cause.
Although it could be claimed that there was more than one possible cause of the aplastic anaemia in this case - i.e. a chemical, an infection and a drug - there are several things that point to the drug as being the principal cause. Firstly, the drug is documented in Martindale's Extra Pharmcopoeia (an internationally recognised book) to cause bone marrow depression. Secondly, the drug was contra-indicated in the BNF, which also lists blood disorders as a side effect of the drug. Thirdly, there was the expected severe reaction to the drug (the reason why it was contra-indicated), followed by symptoms leading up to hospital admission and diagnosis of aplastic anaemia. Circumstances surrounding the case also suggest that the medical profession were aware of the cause and that an error in prescribing had been made which was then covered up.
This case had the shortest latent period between exposure and diagnosis that we had found, but there are similar and even shorter ones documented in medical papers, such as the atomic bomb victims whose diagnosis took only two to three weeks. Once again, contrary to assertions given by the Government to the questions asked in Parliament on 11th January 1989, there was no investigation of the causes in this case. It is possible that the small chemical exposure and the infection potentiated the effects of the drug.
Case no 17 was a female relative who had a serious bone marrow condition which we found to have followed the prescription of a drug known to cause the condition. She was diagnosed as having myelofibrosis. On receiving information from us she made a partial recovery but was never 100% again and died about three years later. She had several transfusions but her bone marrow did not recover to a great degree. The disorder developed after she was prescribed the drug Benzyl Penicillin for a suspected virus infection. Medical textbooks make it quite clear that there is an increased risk of a side effect developing if someone suffering from a virus infection is exposed to a causative agent of bone marrow depression - what is called a synergistic effect. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections so should probably only be given to those suffering from a virus if they develop a secondary infection which will respond to an antibiotic.
The relative had the same local haematology specialist as Edward who, on realising they had the same name and were related, immediately stated that the conditions were similar which showed that the causes of these disorders were genetic and must run in the family. However, no other member of the family has, to date, suffered from a blood dyscrasia. This went on for several months, the consultant becoming more and more dogmatic that the causes were genetic. It would have been amusing to see his face when eventually the relative, who could only keep from laughing with difficulty, pointed out that the cause could not be genetic as she was only related by marriage. What this does show is that the conditions are indeed of the same causes as those documented in medical papers - drugs, chemicals and radiation. It also shows the zeal with which the medical profession try to place the cause of some conditions as anything but the true cause.
It was this same consultant who, after telling Edward that there were no known causes of blood dyscrasias, walked off angrily when Edward took his BNF drug book out of his pocket and opened it at pages which documented several drugs to have aplastic anaemia as a side effect!
Contrary to the usual non-coverage of these conditions in the media, there followed a period of some publicity of conditions resulting from exposure to timber treatment chemicals - Lindane being the most common offending chemical. Anglia Television covered a story in some detail, whilst the Observer newspaper ran an article on the cover-up of the adverse effects of such chemicals by manufacturers and the Government. Names of some victims suffering from aplastic anaemia, leukaemia and other related information was given by us to both press and television. Investigative journalists expressed their astonishment that anyone could doubt that there was any question over a cause and effect, considering there were so many victims and so much medical and scientific evidence. The London Hazards Centre was involved and they had several hundred victims contacting them. The publicity and obvious cover-up was enough to get several hundred MPs to sign a petition calling for a ban on some of the offending chemicals. And finally, after many years, countless needless deaths and untold suffering, the United Kingdom followed many other nations in banning the chemicals for some purposes including treatment of house timbers.
In most cases following exposure to the timber treatment chemicals it is not possible to convince a court of law of a cause and effect. For instance, how can you prove that a teenager who dies of aplastic anaemia following the treatment of a house has not been abusing solvents, an activity which is documented to cause the same condition? However, proof positive is possible if a gas chromatography test is performed which will show what chemicals have been absorbed and at what levels. This shows, as surely as it did with the atomic bomb victims and other surveys done on large numbers of victims, that there is no doubt as to the cause and effect.
Out of court compensation has been paid to victims of aplastic anaemia and cancers due to the treatment of house timbers where it was difficult for the defence to confuse the possible causes. At least one haematology department at a Liverpool hospital, in an article in the Haematology Journal 1990, described how gas chromatography tests revealed a number of patients who had been exposed to Lindane. Investigations by us show that many haematology departments in the United Kingdom had numbers of sick and dying patients suffering blood disorders and leukaemia following their exposure to timber treatment chemicals. In several cases there was more than one person in a treated house affected. In one house there were both aplastic anaemia and cancer victims. In another, two died of leukaemia.
The history of lindane (a benzene-related organochlorine pesticide) is interesting. It was first made by Michael Faraday in 1834 but was not used as an insecticide until after the Second World War. The first scientific paper we have on the chemical is in an American Journal of the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry dated 6th October, 1951 in which it as observed that, in addition to many other symptoms, it could cause blood disorders. Michael Faraday at one time in his career suffered some of the documented symptoms of benzene and/or lindane exposure with severe memory loss and confusion severe enough to stop him lecturing for a time.
It should be noted that when doing the gas chromatography tests to detect levels of chemicals like lindane, low levels were also found in those used as control samples. Today, like DDT, lindane is found in all mammals throughout the world. As lindane is stored in body fat and not easily excreted it is almost certainly one of the causes of the increase in cancers since the last war. This has coincided with an increased use of other agents known to cause cancers.
Although Michael Faraday went on to other work and made an apparent recovery from his benzene and lindane exposures, Marie Curie was not so fortunate. She died of aplastic anaemia resulting from her exposure to the radium she was working with over the years. It is often said she died of leukaemia but this is not true. It is reported that her notebooks and papers are still dangerous because of radioactive contamination. Following her discoveries, radium was used by the medical profession, with no evidence at all that it was effective or safe, for just about every known ill, from depression to constipation. It was not until the number of doctors falling victim to its effects were too numerous to be overlooked that they admitted it was dangerous. Thousands of those treated died of aplastic anaemia and leukaemia.
Such disregard for the obviously serious or fatal effects of medical treatments has repeated itself time and time again in the present century with millions killed and injured by the medical profession's refusal to accept what their own research says about the dangers of some medical treatments. Whenever a new "miracle" cure is promoted by the drug industry it is often promoted as not having the terrible side-effects of the last miracle cure and it is not until the next miracle cure comes along that the side-effects of today's treatment will be admitted. Current drug books used by the medical profession, like the BNF, do now warn against over-prescribing, encourage doctors to be sure that a drug is needed at all, and stress the need to report all side-effects including conditions like cancer which can manifest years later.
Case no. 18 involved the fatal case of a pre-school aged infant boy with aplastic anaemia. It appeared that a number of people were affected adversely in a fairly small area of a northern industrial town. It was not possible for us to investigate the case properly but it is included here as we found several such areas with more than one person affected in one location. It has not been possible to establish a definite causative agent but one possible cause was that the area was adjacent to the site of an old armament factory. The chemicals used for explosives are documented to cause aplastic anaemia, and we have medical papers showing this. Whatever the cause, several people including a doctor had tried to investigate but had their attempts stopped. In one incident, a plan of the area mapping with pins the location of victims mysteriously disappeared from a local hospital without any explanation. Anonymous threats to families were reported to us as well as a few other incidents which made it clear that someone knew something about the causes of illnesses in the area.
This case is similar to one at Love Canal in the United States where houses were built on an old toxic waste site. Here a number of residents, mostly children, suffered conditions like leukaemia etc. After some years it was finally admitted that toxic chemicals, including lindane, were responsible for the illnesses and the area was evacuated.
In case no. 18, however, it seems unlikely that anyone is ever going to admit that the area is contaminated.
Case no. 19 was a young male nuclear worker and would not speak to anyone about his condition. The nuclear industry in the United Kingdom now has a "no-faults" compensation scheme to cover such cases and it is possible that in this case the victim had accepted compensation and signed to say he would not discuss his condition with anyone. This case was related to us via his friends and relatives.
Case No. 20 was a young man was a fatal victim of agranulocytosis, and the first where the condition was not associated with platelet and red cell destruction. We spoke to his brother who informed us that the victim had worked with benzene-related chemicals at a local chemical works. We also spoke to a friend of the victim who had worked at the same works and he explained that there was no real protection for the workers, so they had devised their own safety system. If they developed what they called "the shakes, sweats or bright coloured urine" they got out of the job quickly before they developed more serious or fatal effects. Whilst this offers a degree of self-protection, it is likely that once symptoms had been noticed there would already be a higher than normal risk of developing cancers etc. in the longer term.
Case no. 21 was the youngest daughter of a workman we employed. The child was below school age when she developed thrombocytopenia. This was first diagnosed as a case of child abuse due to the extensive bruising caused by her lack of platelets. It took about two weeks for the correct diagnosis to be made, whereupon the child was given platelet transfusions over a period of several months. Her white cells had also diminished producing a risk of infection causing her to be placed in isolation for a few weeks. Investigations showed that the house had been treated with timber preservatives in the months before the child became ill. Early symptoms had been noticed by the parents before diagnosis, which suggested that the chemicals were responsible. We could find exposure to no other causative agent during the year or so before diagnosis. The reasons why the other children were not affected was probably because they were bigger, therefore less susceptible, and were at school or out of the house much of the time in the months following treatment of the timbers.
When the family tried to obtain private extra medical insurance the insurance company would not entertain insuring a child who had thrombocytopenia. Edward has also been unable to obtain any life insurance since his aplastic anaemia. This shows that insurance actuaries are fully aware of the long term effects of blood dyscrasias. In Edward's case the hepatitis C also seems to be considered in the same light.
We found several more victims of aplastic anaemia and related disorders subsequent to chemical exposure via the Pesticide Group of Sufferers (PEGS), several of whom had been exposed to lindane. This organisation was started by Mrs Enfys Chapman, her family and friends after her exposure to organophosphorous insecticides after being accidentally exposed during crop spraying. None of these cases differed much from the ones we had already investigated. We suggested gas chromatography tests to one case which established proof of cause and effect after exposure to above normal levels of lindane. We were able to help some who were not too seriously affected to recover by giving them the information they needed, such as in one recent case of megaloblastic anaemia following exposure to chemicals including lindane. All the cases connected with PEGS, and we still have contact with some, confirmed what we had already investigated in relation to causes of the conditions.
Investigations into the organophosphorous compounds, which are used in drugs, nerve war chemicals and insecticides, showed that there are also documented causes of paralysing illness with damage to motor neurones - described as delayed neuropathy. Around this time we also looked at Parkinson's disease which is well documented to be caused by prescribed drugs and herbicides - phenothiazine tranquillisers being the most common cause.
The cases described in this section are by no means all of those that we investigated but they give a good overall picture of what we found when interviewing other sufferers, whilst avoiding repetition. Several cases where compensation was paid after we supplied victims or relatives with information and data are not included.
Recent media coverage of many farmers becoming paralysed after using the chemicals as insecticides for sheep dipping has shown our investigations into the effects of the organophosphorous chemicals to be correct. Some of those we spoke to had been paid out of court compensation, including Mrs. Enfys Chapman. Furthermore, the troops in the Gulf War who were exposed to the same chemicals, show many of the symptoms documented to be caused by the organophosphorous chemicals. The paralysing conditions caused by these drugs, chemicals and insecticides ( as well as nerve war weapons) with damage to motor neurons , is once again the main reason for the cover-up. The drug and chemical industry, politicians and the medical profession, do not want to admit that these are responsible for many of today's paralysing conditions. It is quite probable that the troops in the Gulf War were used as "human guinea pigs" as there is a long history of governments using troops in medical and military experiments. In the Gulf War cases, it is possible that medications have combined with the effects of the chemicals to complicate the symptoms.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT - CONCLUSIONSWe found that the only sure way for effective prevention of blood disorders and cancers resulting from exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation is avoidance of causative agents. This can only be achieved through greater public awareness. This is not always easy, however. In Edward's case, his employers and the suppliers had said that herbicides he used at work were "safe enough to eat off a spoon, as safe as table salt". On investigation later it turned out that these chemicals were on official poison registers and some could not be bought by the general public. There have now been laws passed making it illegal to make false claims for the safety of toxic chemicals, herbicides etc.
It is difficult to get at any accurate official figures for the total numbers affected. A few years ago it was admitted that the official figures for the number of cases of leukaemia in the United Kingdom were 60% less than the actual numbers which shows to what degree official figures can be inaccurate. Because blood dyscrasias have the same causes as leukaemia and other cancers and as no tests are normally done, it is difficult to know just how many who develop leukaemia and other cancers first, have some degree of bone marrow damage which goes undetected. The tests done by Piscatto in 1967 to monitor the effects of the drug Phenothiazine on over 6,000 of his patients showed an alarming one third having some degree of bone marrow damage. Therefore, it is probable that just about everyone in the western countries since World War Two has taken one or more of the hundreds of drugs known to cause bone marrow depression and therefore will have some genetic damage and a predisposition to leukaemia and other cancers.
With the massive increase in the prescribing of drugs, use of chemicals and exposure to non-natural occurring radiation since World War Two it is hardly surprising that as many as one third of the populations of some western nations like the United Kingdom can expect to develop cancer at some time. Geneticists may point to this or that gene being defective and predisposal but in most cases this is not a naturally occurring effect - it is genetic damage caused by the known causative agents of the blood dyscrasias. This can be seen clearly in large groups of people who are exposed to causative agents like the 100,000 American troops exposed to the herbicides 2, 4-d (which Edward was also exposed to at work) and 2,4,5-t, which contain dioxin. The wives of those who bore children after their husbands' exposure, gave birth to 3,000 spina bifida babies. The troops themselves have been paid millions of dollars for cancers, neuropathies and other conditions caused by the herbicides.
The gas chromatography tests done on those exposed to toxic chemicals, combined with other laboratory tests, show deficiency of enzymes and knock-on effects on minerals and vitamins which are exactly the same as the documented atomic bomb victims. Vitamin C deficiency is apparent in most victims regardless of which type of exposure. The other deficiencies vary to some degree but some deficiency is common in all cases.
Acting on this information, Edward took replacement minerals and vitamins until his blood counts had reached non life-threatening levels. Some of the minerals and vitamins e.g. B vitamins, are dangerous if taken in too large a dose and have been known to cause serious illness. So unless laboratory tests have been performed showing the exact deficiency levels we do not recommend taking supplementary vitamins and minerals, Vitamin C being the exception. If taken at recommended doses, Vitamin C can be a good detoxifier and also strengthens blood vessels (capillaries can be much weakened when suffering from many blood disorders causing leakage into tissues and bruising). However, this can take a long time to complete. Edward's platelet level is still not normal even after over 10 years.
Without doubt, a sizeable proportion of those affected by conditions like chronic fatigue are due to exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation with its effects on the immune system. Fatigue is just one of many symptoms documented to be caused by the same causative agents as blood dyscrasias. We found many who suffered these symptoms before a more serious condition developed as well as in many less exposed but who did not develop a blood disorder.
Some years ago, various medical experts and textbooks (e.g. Bowman and Rand's Pharmacology) suggested that it would not be long before we knew all the causes of cancer. That time has now arrived. Most cancers do now have known causes and the majority could be prevented. Predictably, those selling or whose livelihood depends on the drugs, chemicals and radiation which cause blood dyscrasias, leukaemia and other cancers will deny the effects to maximise profits for as long as possible. This was exactly the case with the tobacco industry for many years.
One excuse we hear often is that there is no alternative to this or that product. This is argued despite the fact that most if not all causative agents have safer, if less profitable, alternatives, many of which are not essential. A typical example of this cover-up of causes is the very dangerous practice of solvent abuse. The medical profession, governments, teachers etc. all know full well that this is far more dangerous than smoking and yet children are not warned of this known danger. By observing those in the painting and decorating profession it is proved that it is dangerous to inhale petroleum fumes from paints. This is obvious as there is a twenty per cent increase above the normal rate of cancers, particularly lung cancer, to be found in that profession.
In a modern world it is impossible to avoid all known causative agents but with a little care it is possible to avoid the worst effects of the most dangerous ones.
For those already affected and suffering a blood disorder or having suffered in the past, it has been shown how important it is to try to avoid further exposures to which one may be hypersensitised. It has been shown that medical support is by no means always good or appropriate. Edward lost count of the number of times he stopped drug infusions because the drip was put up with only air in the tube (which is not always easily detectable if the drug is not coloured). Any of these occurrences could have been fatal. Infections, which are often fatal in those who are immuno-compromised are as often as not contracted whilst in hospital; therefore, victims and relatives need to be vigilant in demanding care from medical personnel.
It is unlikely that ionising radiation will be a problem but large numbers of X-rays should be avoided if possible.
The most dangerous and most commonly used chemicals are the benzene related ones. Absorption can occur through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion, the latter being the most direct and dangerous route; hence the effects of small amounts of benzene in prescribed drugs. The chemicals to be avoided include paints, varnishes, solvent, solvent adhesives (NB children can become addicted to solvent abuse through the use of correcting fluid), pesticides and herbicides, dry cleaning, petrol and household cleaning products containing phenol (derived from benzene). The pathways that cause the blood disorders and cancers from exposure to benzene are through bioactivation of phenol (the major metabolite which is highly toxic to and destroys the bone marrow) in the liver. That this causes genomic changes is well known but is not yet fully understood.
The halogens chlorine, fluorine and bromine should be avoided if possible, the effects of which in tap water can increase the effects of other chemicals, radiation and drugs. Remember the letter we have from MAFF that quotes "All pesticides are a danger to both human health and the environment". These pesticides can be found in foods.
Heavy metals like mercury and lead should also be avoided., as should Arsenic.
Drugs should be taken with great care by those with blood dyscrasias. So many drugs can cause these conditions that it is impossible to list them all but those like painkillers and tranquillisers are mostly not essential so should be avoided. Antibiotics are also to be avoided if possible and great care should be taken to avoid infections, with scrupulous attention to cleanliness using a gentle antibacterial soap (Cidal is a good one). For arthritis sufferers in pain who have developed a blood disorder due to an arthritic drug, a TENS machine should be demanded from the doctor as this is completely safe and has been shown to reduce much pain in most patients. All drugs should be treated with utmost care and a check made in a drug book like the BNF for side-effects and to see if there is a safer alternative.
There is little doubt that to line the pockets of a few, millions have been made ill or killed by exposure to drugs, chemicals and radiation. Therefore, to a degree, we need to return to the point before the massive increase in the use of these products and take responsibility and control of our own health whilst using doctors as advisors but watching them like a hawk when they reach for their prescription pad without any examination or investigation of an illness.
An old French proverb says that "Most men die of their medicines and not their illnesses."
REFERENCE SOURCESBowman and Rand - Textbook on Pharmacology
American Journal of Pathology - 1949 Atomic Bomb Victims
Michael Freemantle - Chemistry in Action
Professor G. C. de Grouchy - Drug Induced Blood Disorders
Hansard - Questions and Answers to Parliament 11th January 1989
Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food - Letter 17th January 1989
Mosby's Medical and Nursing Dictionary (Fourth edition)
British National Formulary (BNF) by B.M.A and Pharm. Soc. of Great
Britain (various edition to March 1996)
Harrisons - Principals of Internal Medicine
Assoc. of British Pharmaceutical Ind. (ABPI)
Gaddum's Pharmacology (8th edition) Oxford Medical Publications
Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry 6th October 1951 - Toxic Effects of Technical Benzene Hexachloride (JAMA Vol 147 No.6)
Revue des Progress Therapeutics No.1 1938
British Journal of Haematology no. 76 - Bone Marrow Transplantation in Aplastic Anaemia (1990 P401-405 E.R. Komenski, J.M. Hows, J.M. Goldman, J.R. Bachelor. Dept Immunology and Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, UK)
C.N. Lewis, L.E. Putman, F.D. Hendricks, I. Kerlan & H. Welsh - Chloramphenicol in Relation to Blood Dyscrasias (Antibiotics & Chemotherapy Vol. 11 & 12 December 1952, Food and Drug Administration, Washington)
Prof.Dr. Paul Ehrlich - About a Case of Anaemia with Observations on Regenerative Changes in the Bone Marrow (first paper written on the subject 1888)
L. Sanchez-Medal MD, J.P. Castanedo MD and F. Garcia-Rojas MD - Insecticides and Aplastic Anaemia (Mexico, Medical Intelligence Vol. 269 No.25, 19th December 1963)
The Lancet - Idiopathic Aplastic Anaemia (14th January 1961)
James L. Scott, George E. Cartwright and Maxwell M. Wintrobe - Acquired Aplastic Anaemia: An Analysis of 39 Cases and Review of the Pertinent Literature (Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 1957)
J. Phillip Loge MD - Aplastic Anaemia Following Exposure to Benzene Hexachloride (Lindane) JAMA Vol.193 No.2 12th July 1965
The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol. 251 (2nd October 1993)
The Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia (39th edition)
Haematology Digest 43:98 101.1990 - Aplastic Anaemia associated with Organochlorine Pesticide (Lindane) (three cases discussed at Royal Liverpool Hospital)
E.C. Gordon-Smith - Aplastic Anaemia and Other Causes of Bone Marrow Failure (Oxford Textbook of Medicine)
Patrick Kinnersley - The Hazards of Work (Pluto Press p153/4. Benzene causing aplastic anaemia and leukaemia)
Dr. Joe Collier (Lecturer in Pharmacology) - The Health Conspiracy - How Doctors, the Drug Industry and the Government Undermine Our Health.
F.M. Corrigan, S. MacDonald, A. Brown, K. Armstrong & E.M. Armstrong - Neurasthenic Fatigue, Chemical Sensitivity and GABAa Receptor Toxins (Bute Hospital, Lockgllphead, Argyll)
Catherine Caufield - Multiple Exposures (Chronicles of the Radiation Age)
The Guardian - No-fault Compensation to Nuclear Workers & Cancer in Painters (10th July 1992)
The Guardian - Leukaemia Statistics in UK (10th May 1990)
E.M. Davies - Textbook on Adverse Drug Reactions (Oxford University Press)
Medicine and Illness is the website of Edward Priestley. Read further how leukaemia & other blood diseases are caused by prescribed medical drugs, chemicals & radiation.