Graphics credit: EHS & MCS Research and Treatment Group
Since 2009, distinguished French/Belgian physicians and researchers with roots in the cancer field have been doing groundbreaking work on multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). These are twinned conditions often suffered by the same people and I’ll discuss this work its implications in a moment. But I wanted to begin this introduction to the work of Dominique Belpomme of the Paris V University Hospital, Christine Campagnac, Hospital Director in the huge university hospital network Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, and Phillippe Irigaray, PhD, of the Association for Research and Treatments Against Cancer (ARTAC), and, like the other two, also at the European Cancer and Environment Research Institute (ECERI) in Brussels by quoting their own words about the significance of these widespread conditions. As they write on their website (French and English):
ARTAC and ECERI scientists emphasize the extreme gravity of the public health situation generated by environmental pollution, reflected in the increasing incidence of many chronic diseases and some entirely new pathological disorders. Public health policies in the different countries around the world, particularly in the European Community, continue to minimize or deny the deleterious health effects of non-ionizing radiation at various frequencies. The risks of chemicals still marketed without adequate toxicological control, despite the basic reversal of burden of proof (“no toxicity data, no market”) in the new European regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of Chemicals). The Paris Appeal, initiated in 2004 at UNESCO (Paris) by Professor Belpomme, contributed to REACH’s implementation, and ARTAC and ECERI continue to promote its goals at the scientific level.
A CRISIS IN PUBLIC HEALTH AND A CRISIS IN MEDICAL SYSTEMS
Dominique Belpomme, M.D., Mme Christine Campagnac and Philip Irigaray, Phd. Photo Credit: ECERI
In other words, our medical systems are not keeping up at all with the effects of environmental toxins and electrosmog pollution and their links to many chronic illnesses, and are even farther behind in – completely, willfully blind, in fact, to – recognizing and responding to what they call “new pathological disorders.”
Image Credit: Spring Center for Natural Medicine
I agree, and I want to go step further. As many other medical pioneers, (many of whom have had to leave posts in public health care systems and established schools and hospitals to pursue their innovative approaches) say either publicly or privately, many of our medical institutions with doctors in the lead are actually standing in the way of developing adequate responses, to recognized and “new” diseases. In fact, the corporate behavior of these institutions now resembles not the dictates of the Hippocratic oath or the spirit of scientific and medical innovation, but the reflexes of old trade guilds in changing times, jealously protecting their monopoly of their increasingly inadequate theories and methods and resisting the adoption of newer and better ones. And that means we’re all in trouble, because electromagnetic and chemical pollution and everyday toxics affect all of us, directly and indirectly.
Indeed, the inertia, defensiveness and entrenched perverse incentives of our medical institutions in Canada with respect to these “new pathological disorders” are so powerful that they often punish the innovators and pioneers and push them away or shut them down. In the United States, a private market in medicine has allowed a number of these pioneers (for example William Rea, Jonathan Wright, Joseph Mercola, Dietrich Klinghardt, Daniel Amen) to thrive by providing what we call now call ‘integrative’ and ‘functional’ medicine.
There are many sick people who are also affluent, so these doctors have been able to create their islands of innovation, and, eventually to link them. Some of these physicians have become entrepreneurs, selling products they recommend (e.g. Mercola, Amen); others have built large, independent clinics (e.g. Rea, Wright). In my view, no doctor should have to be a businessman to survive. But at least this private market has produced critically important new insights and services to address new illnesses such as MCS, EHS, Gulf War Illness, toxic injury in first responders and toxic clean-up workers, Lyme disease and more. And in the U.S, the impact of this independent sector is plainly significant – over the last 20years there has been a much greater integration of functional medicine into many hospitals and medical schools, including Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Stanford to name a few; though this has not happened without resistance or disapproval, and, some years ago, even determined witch hunts of very important clinicians, such as chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities and environmental medicine pioneer, Dr. Bill Rea of Dallas.
In Canada, however, because there is almost no private medicine, and, where it does exist, much of it is much the same as public, but better organized and more accessible to affluent people (e.g. the Cleveland Clinic); or in the United States, wherever sick people don’t have a lot of money or adequate health insurance (and that’s a lot of people) folks can’t even buy the appropriate health care they need to deal with these types of illnesses. And in the long run –we’re well into the long run now, this has been happening for many decades – when innovating physicians are pushed outside the mainstream, the pressure is removed from the ‘single-organ specialists-pharmaceuticals-and-surgery system’ that was built over the 20th century, and that system does not evolve and change the way we all need it to. Because as the world has changed, so have the disease patterns among us. So we’re all at risk when our medical organizations are still looking in the rearview mirror.
A CALL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW FIELD: ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE
Graphics credit: EHS & MCS Research and Treatment Group
In the years that Belpomme, Campagnac and Irigaray have been working on MCS and EHS, they have clearly been profoundly struck by the chasm between the widespread – epidemic – incidence of these (and other) environmentally-linked illnesses and the vacuum of knowledge and capacity medical and public health systems and in public policy relating to this epidemic. This has caused them to call for the establishment, in Europe specifically, of a new field of “environmental medicine.”
“Taking into account worldwide scientific research and the results of our own research highlighting the causal role of the environment in the emergence of some of these pathological disorders or diseases, we believe that the diagnostic and therapeutic management of such patients must occur within the framework of a new extremely multi-disciplinary form of medical practice designated “environmental medicine”. ARTAC has implemented environmental medicine in France and now, thanks to ECERI in Europe, with the objective to diagnose and treat patients using the best evidence-based techniques, supplying in France highly specialized medical consultations.”
In fact, in the United States, for some decades pioneering physicians have gathered together in the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, and have over that time greatly advanced the science and medicine of these “new pathological entities” – if “new” can aptly be applied to MCS, which has been identified as a distinct clinical entity for nearly half a century. The premier clinical center for this group is the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, where people suffering from MCS and EHS (termed, there, EI, or environmental illness) have been able to find help.
What we need now is a multi-component response. We need to see an international coming together of researchers and practitioners working with these conditions, so that they can strengthen their scientific, medical and political influence. We also need a rapid awakening of health authorities world-wide to these and other environmental epidemics, such that they recognize that these neurological diseases are products of man-made conditions and must be both prevented and treated. They must mandate their health, environmental, economic, educational and other relevant departments to take the necessary actions:
- to slow the spread of these conditions by passing legislation regarding toxic chemicals and wireless networks such that harmful chemicals are banned and substituted for and electrosmog is minimized and contained in safe ways
- to provide safe, accessible, competent diagnostic treatment services and medical housing to those already afflicted
- to institute disability accommodation for sufferers throughout society (thereby rapidly winning public support for prevention efforts, as this will entail major efforts)
- to establish chairs and departments in environmental medicine, including in these conditions in university and college health professional schools (medical schools above all, but not only) and make education in these field mandatory for basic health professional qualification.
This program may sound utopian, but, really: consider the alternative. As the French team points out, the numbers of people who have developed MCS and EHS now is “just the tip of the public health iceberg”. Failing concerted societal change, much worse will come, creating a dystopia in which more and more people will be like aliens on their own planet, and the viability of communities will be undermined. If you don’t believe that we’re already headed in that direction, you might want to check out this link for the peer-reviewed research on MCS and this one for a discussion of it.
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