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9/11 — Lesson Unlearned and Lapdog Joes of The New England Journal of Medicine

Part 6 of the Seven-Segment 9/11-Tenth Anniversary Series

Majid Ali, M.D.

In their writings about 9/11-related health disorders, the medical reporters of The New England Journal of Medicine were a pathetic bunch of Lapdog Joes. Please consider the following quote from the Journal and see for yourself if I take cheap shots at them:

Not Necessarily Medically Significant

"Although the events of September 11 were profoundly traumatic for those directly involved and clearly distressing for others, they are not necessarily medically significant." [Italics added].

  • The New England Journal of Medicine

  • February 21, 2002 (page 629)

    Did The New England Journal of Medicine apologize to the American people and its doctor-readers for its pernicious transgression? No. Should they have? You decide.

    Should Not Overly Medicalize Them

    "Although we should acknowledge our natural emotional reactions to tragic events, we should not overly medicalize them." [Italics added].

    The New England Journal of Medicine

  • February 21, 2002

  • Might Have a Harder Time Recovering

     

    "We anticipate that a subgroup of people might have a harder time recovering, because they were directly exposed to the attacks or because of their personal characteristics (e.g., a history of mental health problem)."

    The New England Journal of Medicine

  • February 21, 2002

  • An Unpatriotic Book

    In 2011, I so clearly foresaw the devastating short-term and long-lasting health consequences that I wrote September Eleven, 2005 (2002) as a book of prediction written in a fictionalized past tense. No publisher showed interest in the book—some dismissed it as fear-mongering while others nearly called it unpatriotic. Imagine my frustration when I read the Journal’s words. So I paid for the book’s publication myself.

    No One Could Have Predicted the Impact on Lung Function

    Next consider the following revealing quote from the official newsletter of Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York (http://www.einstein.yu.edu/home/news.asp?id=477): "This exposure at Ground Zero was so unique that no one could have predicted the impact on lung function. We demonstrated dramatic decline in lung function, mostly in the first 6 months after 9/11, and these declines persisted with little or no meaningful recovery of lung function among FDNY rescue workers (firefighters and emergency medical service workers) over the next six-and-a-half years," said David Prezant, M.D., professor of medicine at Einstein and an attending physician in the pulmonary medicine division at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein, and the chief medical officer of the FDNY, Office of Medical Affairs and the co-director of the FDNY WTC Medical Programs.

    Why Did the Journal Poo-Poohed 9-11-Related Illness?

    The Journal rakes in millions of dollars from drug makers. It is utterly committed to its opposition to those who incriminate environmental toxicities in the cause of disease. It could ill-afford the wrath of its paymasters by warning people against toxicity of 9/11 dust. There was also the matter of supporting drugs for anxiety, sleep disorders, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. This calls for a look into the Journal’s past.

    The Journal Promotes the First Epidemic of Psychiatric Disorder

    As expected , within minutes of the terror of the Twin Towers inferno, psychologists and psychiatrists predicted that millions of people in the City would suffer from acute stress disorder (ASD). Within hours, the talk turned from ASD to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Four months later, in its January 10, 2002, issue, the New England Journal of Medicine advised its readers that PTSD was the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the country.

    The Journal, of course, was the most powerful voice in medicine in the country. No one was expected to challenge it when it labeled the biologic effects of the terror and toxicity of unremitting stress as psychiatric illness. And none did.

    The Journal told its readers that well over 100,000 people directly witnessed the events of September Eleven and, based on the Oklahoma experience, predicted that over 35,000 people in the City will develop post-traumatic stress disorder—the first such epidemic of psychiatric disorder anywhere in the history of the world.

    Yes to Drugs, No to Nutrients

    The New England Journal of Medicine has a long track record of saying Yes to Drugs and No to nutrients. I hoped that the massive scale of events, and suffering triggered by it, would compel its Lapdog Joes to change their tune this once and make an exception. Alas! I was wrong again. The Journal was not touched by any of the woes of the September canaries—just as it had not been with the plight of the Gulf War canaries some years earlier.

    the November 15, 2001, in its editorial it included the following words:

    We are living with new threats to health, new worries, and new uncertainties.

    New uncertainties! I thought I saw some hope for a change. Perhaps those new uncertainties will encourage the Journal to look beyond its subservience to the one-bug/one-disease/one-drug model—and, in that case, make an exception. Perhaps it would not dismiss the problems of the September canaries as an exaggerated stress response that turned into a psychiatric disorder. The Journal continued:

    In addressing these uncertainties, physicians' response should be rational and based on the knowledge and values that are fundamental to the mission of the health care professions.

    Should be rational! Translation: One bug/one-disease/one-drug model of diagnosis and treatment. I realized I had been wrong about the Journal one more time. The Journal was concerned about the rationality of its readers—doctors, health officials, and insurance carriers—because it seemed to sense that it was going to witness a repeat of the Gulf War events. It seemed to suspect that many in the City will become irrational and claim that they were victims of the September Eleven horrors. It was afraid that their irrationality could affect the rationality of its readers. Why else would it caution its readers to be rational if it did not think they would be taken advantage of by those who had lost their rationality?

    It did not escape my notice that the Journal had cautioned not only doctors but all others in the health care professions. It was ever so mindful of its advertisement revenues. There were no drugs that could detoxify the liver. None to restore impaired oxygen metabolism.

    During the last years, the Journal documented well the deepening disorders of people exposed to 9/11 dust on many occasions. Those who claimed they were toxic, it asserted, were toxic only in their minds. Those who insisted their immune system had been injured by the events of September eleven, 2001, it warned, had lost their rationality. They merely suffered from the post-traumatic stress syndrome. What they really needed were compassion, psychotherapy and antidepressants.

    The Seven-Segment 9/11-Tenth Anniversary Series

    Ten years after that cataclysmic day, how do we now look at the issues of ethics among politicians, health officials, journalists, medical examiners, and doctors? I offer my answer to this question in "The 9/11-Tenth Anniversary Series," which includes the following:

    Related Reports

    * Environmental Health

    *  9/11 — A Tragic Story of Neglected Ethics

    * The Untold Story of 9/11 Toxicity, Politicians, and the City’s Medical Examiner

    * 9/11 Dust, Air Hunger, and City’s Lung Specialist

    * 9/11 Toxicity and Lapdog Journalists of New York Magazine

    * 9/11 — Lesson Unlearned and Lapdog Joes of The New York Times

    * 9/11 — Lesson Unlearned and Lapdog Joes of The New England Journal of Medicine

    * Do We Need Special Autopsy Standards for Suspected 9/11-Related Deaths?

     

     

     

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