15 Comments

Cornell and MIT educated Dr Kelly Brogan appears to subscribe to a range of standard anti-vaccination pseudoscience propaganda which is particularly disappointing considering the education she claims to have. This month The Healthy Home Economist published an article by Dr Kelly Brogan on Gardasil  who has recently produced a number of articles on vaccination in on-line forums. Says Kelly in her recent article on Gardasil:

One Size Fits All?

This is, perhaps the most important concept to wrestle with when it comes to providing and mandating pharmaceutical products in otherwise healthy populations. These products are based on a now largely antiquated notion of exposure to virus = infection and, as a corollary, that antibody production = protection.

Now we know that neither of those premises are true.

The paragraph above contains logical and factual fallacies.

  • First, pharmaceuticals are not mandated
  • Germ theory is a scientific fact
  • Antibody production often correlates with protection against a disease but not always and this is well known.
  • The statements are factually incorrect and misrepresent the position of the scientific community.

There are seemingly infinite variables accounting for the immune response through natural mucosal exposure, and we don’t have any better of a grasp on why different people respond differently to vaccines, which bypass natural immunity and provoke inflammatory responses.

There are certainly vast arrays of factors that affect individual responses to microbial exposure via any route, not just mucosal as stated above. Inflammatory responses are an essential step in any immune response from a common cold to a paper cut to vaccination. Vaccines do not bypass natural immunity, they induce immunity perfectly naturally. The statements are factually incorrect.

A productive discussion of this concern by Poland et al references variable response to the Measles vaccine as depicted in the graphic to the right.

Gregory Poland does not say we do not have effective vaccines and that we should not use them, he is a champion of vaccinomics and proposes we can develop new and better vaccine strategies by understanding individual genetics and immunity. Dr Brogen misrepresents this science and the position of the scientific community. It is well established that vaccines are not 100% effective and no scientist involved in vaccines would claim otherwise.

Back to cervical cancer. Once again, we have a one-size fits all recommendation for healthy women to prevent an extremely rare outcome – death from cervical cancer. Let’s take a look at how to evaluate the considerations for you or someone you know:

The objective of vaccination with HPV vaccine is to prevent persistent infection with 4 types of HPV. Prevention of death from cervical cancer has never been a primary outcome for this vaccine.

Claiming only a few women ever die of cervical cancer therefore the vaccine is a waste of money is a common and misleading strategy of anti-immunisation proponents. They omit to mention that cervical screening programmes (while very effective) cannot prevent all cases of cervical cancer and that each year many, many women undergo unpleasant invasive procedures to treat cervical disease in order to prevent cervical cancer. Kelly mentions her own ordeal. In the absence of screening programmes the death rate from cervical cancer is very high.

Dr Brogan then does herself a very grave disservice by bringing in arguments presented by Tomljenovic and Shaw who are also not experts in this field and whose material has been thoroughly debunked as pseudoscience. Their claims have been addressed elsewhere and examples of discussions can be found here at the following links:

Comments from me on Tomljenovic and Shaw 

Comments by Orac  who has a number of blogs that are very relevant

There are many ‘doctors’ out there with impressive sounding qualifications and sincere sounding concerns about vaccines. Often claims about vaccine dangers are complimented with wholesome sounding advice about alternatives to preventing or curing diseases. Let’s just consider Dr Brogan for a moment.

Kelly Brogan appears to have an undergraduate degree from MIT in the area of neuroscience (attendance at MIT is indeed impressive). She then gained a medical degree in 2004 from Cornell Medical College (again very impressive) and one would think the beginning of a great career in reproductive psychology. She is Board Certified in Psychosomatic Medicine and works at NYU Langone Medical Centre as a Clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry. Since qualifying has published three academic papers in the area of psychiatric medicine.

It appears that an interest in holistic medicine (reasonable approach, particularly in the area of psychiatric medicine) led to training in Vanguard Endocrinology (a 12 hour certificate training programme offered by a dietary supplement company). The instructor for this course is also on the board of directors for said dietary supplement company. The learning objectives for this course are:

  • Dramatically increase your practice income with nutritional products and services based on a proven clinical model.

  • Gain clinical certainty in understanding & evaluating laboratory testing for hormonally related chronic disorders.

  • Create a dynamic integrative clinical practice from one of the foremost opinion leaders in the field of hormones.

The introductory session included discussion on the following:

• Allopathic Medicine vs. Integrative Medicine

• Hormones as the Messengers of Stress and as the “Yellow Canaries”

• The Biochemistry of Hormones and Endocrine Imbalance

• Achieving Hormone Balance Through Detoxification, Intestinal Health, Environmental Factors, Sugar Regulation and an Anti- inflammatory Approach

• A Successful Clinical 28-Day Hormone Detoxification Program

• Products and Protocols for Hormonal Balance

• Q& A

Cost: $35 (Dinner included, and paying attendees receive a credit voucher toward XYMOGEN formulas)

To register contact:

Richard Malkin

XYMOGEN Functional Medicine Consultant

908-310-7333 (or e-mail: )

See their facebook page which shamelessly states as the first objective “Dramatically increase your practice income with nutritional products…..”

This is akin to a practising medical doctor taking a course provided by a pharmaceutical company, receiving a certificate and then selling their products directly after receiving credit vouchers at the course. This is not ethical. See what happens when big pharma try just the first part of  this on!!!

XYMOGEN is a manufacturer and distributor of neutraceuticals (dietary supplements). At this point we seem to have veered off into pseudoscience and quackery (as her own blog on flu vaccines will attest to).  Brogan’s misinterpretation (at best) of the evidence and use of material from non-evidence based journals such as the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons which make claims such as HIV does not cause AIDS,  Global Warming is good and not a cause for concern and many other thoroughly discredited claims suggest that she is no longer interested in evidence based medicine. It is also worth noting that she is highly critical of pharmaceutical companies but quite happy to promote  and presumably take a profit from neutraceuticals which have far less scientific evidence to support use than licensed and regulated medicines  (see disclaimer at bottom of the page).

One more example of Brogan’s failure to understand evidence is the example she gives of a study on the impact of influenza among pregnant women conducted in Australia and NZ published in the prestigious NEJM.  She flippantly states that:

Pregnant patients are not at higher risk, do not die more frequently or suffer more complications from influenza…..  Additionally, based on this study of 250,000 pregnant women in Australia and New Zealand, only 0.03% were admitted to the ICU for H1N1 complications and there is suspicion that obesity was the underlying driver of these complications.

Come on Kelly, you are really misrepresenting this study. What the study says is :

  • We identified infants (0 to 1 year of age) and adults 25 to 64 years of age to be at particular risk. Pregnant women, adults with a BMI greater than 35, and indigenous Australian and New Zealand populations also appeared to have an increased risk. In-hospital mortality, estimated on the basis of data available at the time of this report, exceeded 16%.

  • The proportion of patients who were admitted to an ICU and were pregnant, had chronic lung disease, had a BMI greater than 35, or were indigenous to Australia or New Zealand were all higher than the corresponding proportions in the general population. Finally, a third of our patients were young or middle-aged adults who neither were pregnant nor had a known coexisting condition.

And the conclusions of a Systematic Review on the 2009 pandemic influenza on pregnancy :

As predicted based on experience with seasonal influenza and previous pandemics,1 pregnant women were quickly identified as a high-risk group for severe complications of 2009 H1N1 influenza, including hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and death……. Pregnancy was associated with increased risk of hospital and intensive care unit admission and of death. Pregnant women who received delayed treatment with neuraminidase inhibitors or who had additional risk factors were more likely to develop severe disease. Preterm and emergency cesarean deliveries were frequently reported. These results reinforce the importance of early identification and treatment of suspected influenza in this high-risk population.

Flying in the face of science; sunshine, XYMOGEN neutraceuticals and butterflies do not always make everything better.

Despite a promising and prestigious education in psychiatric medicine, Kelly Brogan appears to have no qualifications in, published research on or clinical experience in the areas of infectious diseases, microbiology, immunology, epidemiology or in particular, vaccines and she seems to be using her status as a medical doctor to provide inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines – an attribution to false authority to expose a hidden truth somehow overlooked by the thousands of scientists and physicians who have spent their careers assessing vaccines and immunisation programmes.