Flu Shots Cause Alzheimer’s Disease-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Flu shots contain toxins and ingredients that can destroy your brain and cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Flu shots do not lead to Alzheimer’s or memory loss — research actually suggests that flu vaccines may be able to help prevent Alzheimer’s.
While most doctors and scientists have rejected the theory that mercury used in some types of flu shots leads to Alzheimer’s disease, a handful of fringe doctors continue to spread those rumors using arguments that are easy to discredit.
In 2014, Newsmax published a report under the headline “Some Flue Shot Formulations Contain Brain-Destroying Toxin: Top Doctor.” The “top doctor” cited in the report is Dr. David Brownstein, a self-described holistic family physician who warns about the dangers of mercury in flu shots:
Thimerosal, a preservative found in manyflu shots, is 50 percent mercury. It’s different, and much more harmful, than the type of mercury found in fish. While the FDA warns against eating more than two servings of fish weekly because of the danger of mercury, it allows this more toxic form to be added to flu shots (and other vaccines). The only reason thimerosal is added is as a preservative in multi-dose vials.
Known as ethylmercury, this type of mercury in flu shots depresses the immune system and damages the brain. Much of ethylmercury is converted in the body to a form of mercury that accumulates in the brain with every annual flu shot and is very difficult to remove. Ethylmercury is much more harmful than methylmercury, the form of mercury found in fish, and is much more likely to stay in the brain.
For years, thimerosal has been associated with an increase in autism, but one of the most troubling connections is with Alzheimer’s. “There’s no doubt that the flu vaccine can lead to Alzheimer’s, because many flu shots are preserved with mercury and it’s a known brain toxin,” says Dr. Brownstein. “You give enough brain toxins and people are going to develop memory issues.”
Brownstein’s claim is at least partially true. Multi-dose vial flu vaccines contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that prevents germs, bacteria and fungi from contaminating the vaccine. But here’s where Brownstein’s claims go awry: ethylmercury is easily passed through the body, which makes it far less likely to cause harm. The CDC explains the difference like this:
Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water. Two types of mercury to which people may be exposed — methylmercury and ethylmercury — are very different.
Methylmercury is the type of mercury found in certain kinds of fish. At high exposure levels methylmercury can be toxic to people. In the United States, federal guidelines keep as much methylmercury as possible out of the environment and food, but over a lifetime, everyone is exposed to some methylmercury.
Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is cleared from the human body more quickly than methylmercury, and is therefore less likely to cause any harm.
The CDC concluded that “studies show no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines,” and its considered a very safe additive.
Besides that, Canadian researchers actually found that older adults who receive flu shots and other vaccines actually appear to be at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not receive the vaccination:
For each type of vaccine, subjects who reported at least one vaccination were at lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease than those who had never been exposed, after adjustment for age, sex and education. Vaccines against diphtheria or tetanus and against poliomyelitis were associated with statistically significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (60% and 40% lower respectively). Exposure to influenza vaccine was also related to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but the association did not reach statistical significance. Additional adjustment for smoking, alcohol use, family history of dementia, ADL and IADL, chronic diseases and perceived health status yielded similar results.
The Alzheimer’s Association has also debunked claims that flu shots have been linked to memory loss or Alzheimer’s itself:
A theory linking flu shots to a greatly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. Several mainstream studies link flu shots and other vaccinations to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and overall better health.
So, there’s absolutely no proof that flue shots lead to Alzheimer’s or memory loss. Brownstein’s theory fails to acknowledge that there are two different types of mercury, and the type of mercury used in multi-vial flu shots is not the same as the type of toxic mercury that is found in fish.