E-Mail Edition  Volume 7   Number 4

Originally published Fall, 2010

Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.

Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org

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  • Are We Poisoning Ourselves?

  • The Anti-Aging Power of Coconut Water

  • Deceptive Tobacco Marketing Imitated by Drug Industry




Are We Poisoning Ourselves?


What you eat may be killing you! According to Russell Blaylock, MD, a neurosurgeon and author of the book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, we are slowly poisoning ourselves and causing irreversible damage to our unborn children by eating dangerous food additives known as excitotoxins. These food additives kill neurons (brain cells), retarding brain development in the young and accelerating brain aging in adults and increasing risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease. They also increase the risks of developing cancer and hormonal imbalances. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US. Alzheimer's is currently seventh and rapidly increasing. Hormonal imbalances are epidemic.


We are all at risk. Restaurant foods are loaded with neurotoxins. Most packaged, prepared foods contain neurotoxins in one form or another. The most wildly used neurotoxins are monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame.

In the introduction to his book Dr. Blaylock says, "What if








Common brands containing aspartame.

































someone were to tell you that a chemical added to food could cause brain damage in your children, and that this chemical could affect how your children's nervous system formed during development so that in later years they may have learning difficulties?

What if there was scientific evidence that these chemicals could damage a critical part of the brain known to control hormones so that later in life your child might have endocrine problems? How would you feel?

"Suppose evidence were presented to you strongly suggesting that the artificial sweetener in your diet soft drink may cause brain tumors to develop, and that the number of brain tumors reported since the widespread introduction of artificial sweeteners has risen dramatically? Would that affect your decision to drink these products and especially to allow your children to drink them? What if you could be shown overwhelming evidence that one of the main ingredients in the sweetener (aspartame) could cause the same brain lesions as MSG? Would that affect your buying decisions?"1

Dr. Blaylock makes a strong argument against the use of neurotoxic food additives. He backs up his statements with citations to numerous published studies. He goes on to help the reader identify these troublemakers in food products and offers solutions.

Excitotoxins are flavor enhancers that thrust brain cells into a state of extreme excitation. The neurons begin firing impulses at a rapid, chaotic, and unstoppable pace until they collapse from exhaustion and die. The brain cells are essentially excited to death.

What happens is a slow destruction of brain cells that are specifically sensitive to excitotoxin damage. Glutamate, the main component of MSG, and aspartate, a primary component of aspartame, act as neurotransmitters relaying messages from one neuron to another. Neurons that use glutamate or aspartate for transmitters are destroyed by high concentrations of these chemicals, while other neurons that use other transmitters are spared, Dr. Blaylock reports. Some of the areas affected in the brain include the memory centers and motor control centers—the areas associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

MSG was discovered by Japanese researchers in 1909. But it wasn't until the 1950s that American food processors started adding it to their products. Aspartame was developed in 1965 and approved as a food additive in the early 1980s. Aspartame is sold under a number of names such as AminoSweet, NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure.

One of the first studies to raise an alarm about excitotoxins was completed in 1957 by ophthalmologists Lucas and Newhouse. They found that MSG caused nerve cell damage in the retinas all of the animals they tested. In 1968 Dr. Olney from the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis repeated their experiments and found the same retinal damage but also observed widespread destruction of the neurons in the brain. The worst destruction occurred in newborn and immature animals. Similar damage was demonstrated when aspartame was used in the tests in place of MSG. As the animals matured, their growth was stunted, they became obese, they reached puberty prematurely, and developed reproductive problems. A human child's brain is four times more sensitive to MSG than adult brains, causing concern among parents about baby foods containing MSG. Thanks to Dr. Olney's efforts, MSG was voluntarily removed from baby foods in 1969. However, mothers who eat foods containing MSG and aspartame pass these chemicals to their unborn and nursing children.

Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids that are common in many foods, but in natural foods they are always bound to other substances that prevent them from passing across the blood brain barrier in any appreciable amount. In contrast, food additives are purified and concentrated so when they are consumed they flood the brain to ignite feverish neuron activity.

Restaurant foods can contain high amounts of MSG, some as much as 9.9 grams in a single dish, which is enough to produce brain damage in animals. After a meal, MSG levels in the human brain can remain elevated for 24 hours, long after blood levels have come down. During this time the brain is subjected to destructive hyperactivity. People who consume foods and beverages containing MSG and aspartame throughout the day are continually destroying brain cells. Since some of the areas in the brain that are affected regulate hormones, hormone balance is disrupted.

MSG and aspartame are found in a wide variety of manufactured foods like canned soup, chili, frozen and packaged dinners, soda, candy, chips, gravy mixes, bouillon, chicken or beef stock, and spaghetti sauce. You need to look carefully at ingredient labels on all packaged foods.

Dr. Blaylock emphasizes, that labels can be deceptive where the excitotoxins are concerned. Many food additives contain MSG without actually specifying the term "MSG." For example, "natural flavors" is legally permitted to be used even if this additive contains MSG. Other additives to watch out for include hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured protein, autolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, soy protein, natural flavoring, beef or chicken flavoring, soy protein isolate, protein concentrate, and most soy products like soy milk, soy sauce, kombu, and miso.

Considering the vast amount of food that contains MSG and aspartame, it is almost impossible to avoid all sources of these additives. When you go out to eat you can ask if the food contains MSG, but that is no guarantee it is clean. Often the packaged foods they use will have hidden sources of MSG like autolyzed protein or beef flavoring.

There are some nutrients which can help to mitigate the harmful effects of excitotoxins, although not completely block them. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, and K, beta carotene and minerals magnesium, chromium, zinc, and selenium can all be helpful. Interestingly, these nutrients are usually depleted or lacking in most processed foods that contain excitotoxins. The best sources for these nutrients are fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that do not have food additives.

The best defense against excitotoxins is to avoid eating them. Since some excitotoxins may slip into the diet accidentally, it's a good idea to get plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet for added protection. Coconut oil could also be helpful. Studies show that monoglycerides from coconut oil can partially neutralize the harmful effects of glutamate. In brain culture studies monolaurin (dodecylglycerol) reduced glutamate damage by up to 60-85 percent.2



1. Baylock, Russell L. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Health Press;Santa Fe, NM, 1997.

2. Dave, J.R., et al. Dodecylglycerol provides partial protection against glutamate toxicity in neuronal cultures derived from different regions of embryonic rat brain. Mol Chem Neuropathol 1996;30:1-13.



The Alternative Health Controversy, Parts 1, 2, and 3

Doctor Oz interviews Doctor Joe Mercola about The Alternative Health Controversy. Full story here  | Part 1 Part 2  | Part 3







Coconut Water for Health and Healing

by Dr. Bruce Fife

is available from

Piccadilly Books, Ltd.

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The Anti-Aging Power of Coconut Water


Coconut water has many nutritional and health benefits. It makes an excellent oral rehydration beverage and is even useful as an intravenous hydration medium.1 Evidence shows it can offer protection against heart attack, reduce high blood pressure, dissolve kidney stones and prevent their reoccurrence, fight cancer, relieve constipation, and even retard the aging process.

Coconut water contains a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, growth factors, and other phytonutrients. Among the most interesting components of coconut water are the plant growth hormones, particularly the cytokinins. Cytokinins regulate growth, development, and aging. Coconut water significantly increases plant cell proliferation without increasing the number of undesirable mutations (i.e., cancer).2 For this reason, coconut water is used extensively as a growth-promoting component in tissue cultures. The cytokinins in coconut water regulate cell division and influence the rate at which plants age. Since cytokinins can retard the effects of aging, they are known as anti-aging hormones.

Depending on the amount of cytokinins present, the aging process in plants can be either accelerated or retarded. Reducing cytokinin production causes the plant to age faster, increasing cytokinin production slows down the aging process and extends the lifespan and productivity of plants.

Interestingly, cytokinins not only influence plant cells but animal and human cells as well.3-5 Cytokinins slow down considerably the normal sequence of aging. Cells exposed to cytokinins do not undergo the severe degenerative changes that ordinarily occur with normal aging.3 Although the total lifespan of human cells does not increase much, the cells remain significantly more youthful and vibrant throughout their lifetime. Treated cells never undergo the severe degenerative changes experienced by untreated cells. In all respects, their youth is extended into old age.

Coconut water is the richest natural source of cytokinins. Some investigators have suggested that consuming coconut water may produce an anti-aging effect on the body, reducing risk of developing degenerative and age related diseases. There is good evidence to support this view.

Animal tissue, like that of a plant, when surgically removed ages very fast. Preserving living tissue for culture studies or transplantation is important to researchers and physicians. In order to ensure tissue quality at a later time, they are stored in special solutions that retard aging and keep living tissues alive. Coconut water has been shown to be effective in prolonging the life of animal and human tissues. In fact, it is even more effective than commercial solutions that have been specially formulated for this purpose.6-7

As a child of about 6 or 7 I remember playing with my older sister and accidentally being hit in the mouth and having one of my teeth come out. I went straight to my mother and showed her the tooth and empty socket. She simply stuck the tooth back into the socket. In time it reattached itself and never gave me any trouble.

Teeth are specialized bones and are living tissue, just like any other bone or tissue in the body. If separated from their blood supply for too long they die. And can never be reattached. Once a living tissue dies, it is dead forever. There is no reviving dead tissue. As long as a dislodged tooth is still alive, it can be replaced in the socket and reattach itself. This must be done within about 30 minutes.8 The chance of a successful reattachment is directly related to the length of time the tooth remains outside the oral cavity.

When a tooth is knocked lose, the primary goal is to preserve the vitality of the periodontal ligament (PDL) cells attached to the root surface until appropriate treatment can be performed. This may bring about the reattachment of the periodontal ligament. After displacement, the number of viable cells on the root surface decreases with increased drying time and after about 2 hours reattachment is highly unlikely.

The ideal treatment at the time of the accident is immediate replantation, thus reestablishing the natural nutrient supply to the periodontal ligament cells, thereby minimizing further damage and enhancing the healing process. Unfortunately, some situations may occur that delay immediate replantation. Since it may take longer than 30 minutes to get medical attention, storing the tooth in an appropriate solution can greatly extend the life of the tooth in transit. Various solutions such as water, saliva, and milk have been tried to see how well they can maintain tooth viability. Tap water and saliva actually cause damage to the periodontal ligament cells, reducing the chance of a successful reattachment. Milk is usually recommended because it maintains the viability of the tooth longer than most other fluids available around the home.

Coconut water, however, may be the ideal solution for preserving the life of detached teeth. In a recent study, coconut water was shown to maintain the vitality of detached teeth longer than milk and even Hank's balanced salt solution (HBSS) a commercial solution designed for this purpose.9

In this study, 50 freshly extracted human teeth were divided into 3 experimental groups and 2 control groups. In the first control group viable PDL cells were counted immediately after extraction. In the second control group viable cells were counted 8 hours after extraction. The experimental teeth were stored dry for 30 minutes and then immersed in 1 of the 3 fluids: coconut water, HBSS, and milk. The viable PDL cells were counted.


Number of Viable Cells for the Various Test Groups

Groups                       Mean number of viable cells

Control Group 1          3762.729

Coconut Water            525.00

HBSS                         446.73

Milk                             185.60

Control Group 2          38.70


The teeth stored in coconut water demonstrated significantly the highest number of viable PDL cells followed in rank order by HBSS and milk. Coconut water preserved the life of the cells 20 percent better than HBSS and 300 percent better than milk.

The ability of coconut water to preserve and extend the life of human tissues is credited mostly to the high concentration of cytokinins in the water. Cytokinins also act as potent antioxidants. Excessive oxidative damage to human tissues is one of the causes of premature aging. Unsaturated fatty acids in our skin and other tissues are highly vulnerable to oxidative stress and readily degrade to form destructive free radicals. Antioxidants block these destructive reactions, protecting tissues from damage that accelerates the aging process. Cytokinins have been found to inhibit oxidative damage and preserve tissue integrity.10

Because of cytokinins' anti-aging effects on human tissues, cosmetic manufacturers often add them to facial creams and lotions for the treatment of aging spots, wrinkles, and dry skin. Not only does coconut water slow down the aging process, but when taken internally it also protects against many age related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

In regulating cell growth, cytokinins prevent mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die. Much of the early research on cytokinins was funded by The American Cancer Society. Soon after the discovery of cytokinins in the 1950s researchers quickly recognized their potential in fighting cancer. Subsequently, the anti-cancer effects of cytokinins have been well documented.11-15

Cytokinins may also protect the heart and arteries. They inhibit platelet aggregation in human platelets when stimulated by an agonist16 and cold, therefore, help to prevent blood clots that may lead to heart attacks and strokes.17-18

High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors associated with heart disease. Coconut water can dilate blood vessels thus reducing high blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.19 This effect is due not to cytokinins but to the high potassium and arginine (an amino acid) content.

Recent studies show that cytokinins can be a potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases. Researchers found that cytokinins possess an inhibitory effect on acetylcholinesterase and it can be used to treat dementia and Alzheimer's disease.20-21 Acetylcholinesterase degrades the neural compounds that mediate nerve cell transmission, and thus by blocking its action, synaptic transmission can be improved. Another recent study found that cytokinins can prevent amyloid beta-protein formation—the plaque that gums up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.22

When you look at all of the anti-aging effects associated with coconut water, it is probably the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.



  1. Campbell-Falck, D., et al. The intravenous use of coconut water. Am J Emerg Med 2000;18:108-111.

  2. Arditti, J. Micropropagation of Orchids, 2nd ed.; Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, UK, 2008;Volume II.

  3. Rattan, S.I.S., and Clark, B.F.C Kinetin delays the onset of ageing characteristics in human fibroblasts. Biochem Bioophys Res Commun 1994;201:665-672.

  4. Sharma, S.P., et al. Plant growth hormone kinetin delays aging, prolongs the life span and slows down development of the fruitfly Zapronius paravittiger. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1995;216:1067-1071.

  5. Rattan, S.I.S. and Sodagam, L. Gerontomodulatory and youth-preserving effects of zeatin on human skin fibroblasts undergoing aging in vitro. Rejuvenation Res 2005;8:46-57.

  6. Silva, J.R., et al. Effect of coconut water and Braun-Collins solutions at different temperatures and incubation times on the morphology of goat preantral follicles preserved in vitro. Theriogenology 200;54:809-822.

  7. De Cassia Soares Cardoso, R., et al. Comparison of two dilution rates on canine semen quality after cryopreservation in a coconut water extender. Animal Reproduction Science 2006;92:384-391.

  8. Barreira,  A.K., et al. Parental behavior regarding traumatically avulsed teeth: case reports. Gen Dent 2008;56:177-181.

  9. Gopikrishna, V., et al. 2008. A quantitative analysis of coconut water: a new storage media for avulsed teeth. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology 105:e61-e65.

  10. Verbeke, P., et al. Kinetin inhibits protein oxidation and glycoxidation in vitro. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2000;276:1265-1270

  11.  Adair, W.L. and Brennan, S.L. The role of N-6-isopentenyl adenine in tumor cell growth. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1986;137:208-214.

  12. Dolezal, K, et al. Preparation and biological activity of 6-benzylaminopurine derivatives in plants and human cancer cells. Bioorg Med Chem 2006;14:875-874.

  13. Choi, B.H., et al. Kinetin riboside preferentially induces apoptosis by modulating Bcl-2 family proteins and caspase-3 in cancer cells. Cancer Lett 2008;261:37-45.

  14. Cheong, J., et al. Inhibitory effect of kinetin riboside in human heptamoa, HepG2. Mol BioSyst 2009;5:91-98.

  15. Tiedemann, R.E., et al. Identification of kinetin riboside as a repressor of CCND1 and CCND2 with preclinical antimyeloma activity. J Clin Invest 2008;118:1750-1764.

  16. Sheu, J.R., et al. Inhibitory mechanisms of kinetin, a plant growth-promoting hormone, in platelet aggregation. Platelets 2003;14:189-196.

  17. Hsiao, G., et al. Inhibitory activity of kinetin on free radical formation of activated platelets in vitro and on thrombus formation in vivo. Eur J Pharmacol 2003;465:281-287.

  18. Barciszewski, J., et al. Kinetin- a multiactive molecule. Int J Biol Macromol 2007;40:182-192.

  19. Alleyne, T., et al The control of hypertension by use of coconut water and mauby: two tropical food drinks. West Indian Med J 2005;54:3-8.

  20. Heo, H.J., et al. Inhibitory effect of zeatin, isolated from Fiatoua villosa, on acetylcholinesterase activity from PC12 cells. Mol Cells 2002;72:577-581.

  21. Kim, M.J., et al. Zeatin supplement improves scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2008;72:577-581.

  22. Choi, S.J., et al. Zeatin prevents amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity and scopolamine-induced cognitive defects. J Med Food 2009;12:271-277.








Deceptive Tobacco Marketing Imitated by Drug Industry



Smoking is Good for All that Ails You

"Cigares de joy" (translation: cigars of joy). Why are they such a joy? Because they can give immediate relief from asthma, cough bronchitis, hay-fever, influenza, and shortness of breath. Just what the doctor ordered.













Smoking Damages Your Lungs, Heart, and Brain

We all know that smoking increases the risk of several life-threatening diseases among which include heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema, now dementia can be added to this list. A recent study reveals that middle-aged smokers are far more likely than nonsmokers to develop dementia later in life, and heavy smokers — those who go through more than two packs a day — are at more than double the risk (Rusanen, M., et al. Heavy smoking in midlife and long-term risk of Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia. Arch Intern Med, online October 25, 2010).

Before and After

All good health claims must include a before and after photo. In this case, they could find nobody who looked better after smoking, so the advertiser had to resort to drawings. Proof positive Greys are the best.






Researchers analyzed the data of 23,123 health plan members who participated in a voluntary exam and health behavior survey from 1978 to 1985, when they were 50 to 60 years old. Twenty-three years later, about one-quarter of the group, or 5,367, had dementia, including 1,136 with Alzheimer's disease and 416 with vascular dementia.

The researchers concluded that pack-a-day smokers were 37 percent more likely than nonsmokers to develop dementia, and the risks went up sharply with increased smoking; 44 percent for one to two packs a day; and twice the risk for more than two packs.

Non-smokers, too, are at risk.

Doctor on Call

Rest assured that if your doctor smokes it must be safe.  This ad was created in 1946, when the link to lung cancer was hotly debated. What can be more reassuring than the small-town doctor? Dr. Robert Jackler, chair of the department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine says, "The response of the organized medical community was to do nothing, because the ads showed doctors looking wise."


 Secondhand smoke is nearly as dangerous. Each year an estimated that 46,000 deaths from heart disease occurs in non-smokers who live with smokers; about 3,400 lung cancer deaths from secondhand smoke; and up to 300,000 lung infections in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in about 15,000 hospitalizations annually. It is reasonable to assume that if the hearts and lungs of non-smokers are adversely affected by secondhand smoke so are their brains. We are all affected to one degree or another whether we smoke or not.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds; 200 of which are known to be poisonous, and upwards of 60 have been identified as

The Second Opinion

Small-town doctors are fine, but if you want an opinion with weight, you have to bring in the "throat specialist." This doctor is distinguishable from the general practitioner in that he's older and more experienced and besides, he holds a tiny mirror on a stick which appears to give him an air of authority. Celebrity endorsements in the smaller photos included opera singers, clergymen, and politicians — anyone who had to use their voice and lungs — were hired as pitchmen. Actress Joan Crawford endorsed several different brands over the course of her career.


carcinogens. At least half of all long-term smokers will die from complications related to smoking. That translates to nearly 5 million deaths a year worldwide. To look at it another way, someone loses their life to smoking every 8 seconds somewhere in the world.



History is Repeating Itself

The risks of smoking have been known for decades. Even a century ago people intuitively knew smoking wasn't healthy. By the 1940s enough medical research was published to clearly demonstrate its ill effects. The tobacco companies refuted the studies and paid doctors and celebrities to advertise and promote their products as harmless and in some cases even healthful. By 1964 some 7,000 scientific studies had been published on the dangers of smoking. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the

20,679 Doctors Can't Be Wrong

This 1930 ad proudly proclaims that 20, 679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating. Is it really a good marketing strategy to say something is "less irritating?" Can you imagine a movie being advertised as "Less Annoying" or "Not as Stupid"?  And how did they arrive at the magical number 20,679? Why stop there? Why not go for the big 20,700? Apparently it sounds more scientific this way and in subsequent ads the number increased.


medical community and governmental agencies were forced to admit the dangers of smoking. This was followed by the placement of warnings on cigarette packages and a ban of cigarette commercials on television. Today it seems obvious that smoking is bad for your health. But it wasn't so obvious when doctors were depicted in advertisements promoting it.

We have a similar situation today with drugs. Despite the many drug recalls, drug-related deaths, and dishonest marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry, drugs are hyped up as wonder cures and advertised extensively on television and in other media.

A Woman's Right to Inhale

Cigarette makers tied their products to women's rights. Here we have a woman who has risen to the top in a man's profession in 1946. Was it because she smoked? Well, you can't disprove it.







Deceptive Advertising in the Tobacco Industry

Long before there were any studies proving the detrimental effects of tobacco, people knew instinctively that smoking was bad for their health. Coughing, bad breath, stained teeth, throat irritation, shortness of breath, and other symptoms were obvious signs of its deleterious effects. Cigarettes were referred to as "coughin' nails." A popular tactic used by the tobacco industry (and later copied by the drug industry) was to create the false impression that smoking was not only harmless but even healthful. Ads proudly proclaimed tobacco as a

Amazing What Science Can Do

How exactly, one might ask, did a man with a microscope prove in 1951 that Chesterfields have "no unpleasant after-taste"? By looking for an absence of aftertaste molecules? In 1998 a massive lawsuit forced strict marketing guidelines on the tobacco companies. By 2005 those companies had almost doubled their marketing spending, from $6.7 billion to $13.1 billion. Most of the promotion has moved into bars, event sponsorship and, of course, the Marlboro Health Spa, ...er, Ranch.


soothing remedy for "Colds and Catarrh" and other ailments. Later, ads used doctors, athletes, move stars, and other celebrities to depict smoking as healthful, glamorous, and sexy and enjoyed by all those who have achieved success, fame, and fortune. 

The tobacco industry used medical claims to deceive the public even in the face of overwhelming medical evidence. Doctors were used heavily in the tobacco industry's propaganda war. The perception was that if doctors themselves were smoking, then preconceived concerns and all of the anti-smoking studies and warnings must not be of any consequence.

The tobacco ads showed images of the noble physician as a smoker and

Another Reason Not to Visit the Dentist

You can't leave the dentist out. They too recommend brands. Their slogan, "Smoke brand X because it makes your teeth less yellow and with fewer cavities!"


 endorser of cigarettes. The none-too-subtle message was that if the doctor, with all of his expertise, chooses to smoke a particular brand, it must be safe. Unlike with celebrity and athlete endorsers, the doctors depicted were never a specific individual. The images were always of an idealized physician, wise, noble, and caring, who enthusiastically partakes of the smoking habit. Little protest was heard at the time from the medical community or organized medicine, perhaps because the images showed the profession in a highly favorable light. This genre of ads regularly appeared in medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, an organization which for decades collaborated closely with the tobacco industry.

Taking the Mickey


Tobacco companies claim to spend most of their ad dollars persuading established smokers to switch brands. Mickey Mantle endorsed Camels in 1953 (right) but switched to Viceroys in 1957. Today the only major sport endorsed by tobacco products is auto-racing, possibly because cigarette smoke helps to cut the exhaust fumes.


In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s the prestige of the medical profession was considerably higher than it is today. Patients were reluctant to question their doctor's recommendations, and a medical endorsement carried a great deal of weight. L&M characterized their cigarettes as "Just what the doctor ordered."

The theme they tried to convey was that cigarettes were actually good for you. The cigarette industry wasn't satisfied with just denying health risks. Brand X, Y, or Z was supposed to be "good for the throat," helping the "T" zone (throat and taste), etc. The RJ Reynolds Company went so far as to recommend cigarettes as an essential accompaniment of a good meal. "At mealtimes Camels offer a helping hand to  good digestion" by "increasing the flow of fluids—alkaline digestive fluids—that are so vital to a sense of well being after eating" the ads proclaimed. Embassy

Movie Stars Do It

Rosalind Russell pictured alongside a letter from Dr. F.R. Darkis, the director of research at Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, verifying that L&M cigarettes filter out one-third more smoke and nicotine. If the doctor says so, it must be true.






cigarette ads declared, "Inhale to your heart's content!...enjoyment plus an extra margin of protection." Although not specifically stated, the ad implied that smoking protected the heart—an obvious counter to the immerging evidence linking smoking to heart disease.

As evidence against the use of smoking mounted, tobacco companies realized that nobody believed that smoking was healthy or even without risks. They had to change tactics. They still made false health claims but acknowledged the obvious symptoms associated with tobacco use with ads saying things like, "Medical authorities recognize Philip Morris proved for less

Et Tu, Santa?

It's winter. You have a sniffle. But you can "guard against throat-scratch" by making like St. Nick and lighting up a Pall Mall. There are so many things wrong with this 1951 ad that it's hard to know where to begin, but how about with the grammar? "... Pall Mall's greater length of fine tobaccos still travels the smoke further ..." Come again? One thing is clear, though: if Santa's lighting up, it's not helping him keep the weight off.


irritating to the smoker's nose and throat." This brand of cigarette is healthier because it is less irritating (i.e., less harmful or won't kill you as fast). For some reason, this made customers feel reassured because they were using a product that was less irritating than another product.

Some of the health claims were ridiculous. Kensitas a brand in the UK was promoted as a healthier choice because it incorporated "Ultra-Violet Rays" to protect the throat against cough and irritation. Their ad stated:

"Choose Kensitas—the only cigarette in the United Kingdom that offers the throat protection of the exclusive Private Process which includes

Baby Needs a New Pair of Lungs!

Even babies get into the act. Long before there was a Marlboro Man and a Marlboro horse and that macho Marlboro wilderness, there was a Marlboro baby. And tobacco companies say they don't market their products to children.


the use of modern Ultra-Violet Rays—the process that expels certain biting, harsh irritants naturally present in every tobacco leaf. Kensitas offers the finest, choicest, real Virginia tobacco, plus throat protection. No wonder 1004 British Doctors have stated Kensitas to be less irritating."

This ad had to be true because 1004 doctors said so. Why the number 1004? Why not just say 1000 doctors found it less irritating? I suppose it looks more scientific with an unusual number.

People believe in science, so the tobacco industry began sponsoring their own studies and surveys to sell more cigarettes. R.J. Reynolds made a name for itself by claiming that "More Doctors smoke Camels." To prove their claim they sponsored "studies" to show that doctors preferred Camels over other brands, thus implying they were healthier.

A typical ad read, "Doctors in every branch of medicine—113,597 in all—were queried in this nationwide study of cigarette preference. Three leading

Source: Robert Jackler, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Time Magazine. To see more historic tobacco ads go to http://lane.stanford.edu/tobacco/index.html

research organizations made the survey. The gist of the query was—What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor? The brand named most was Camel!" Note that the ad actually says the data


was from a study, implying it was conducted scientifically and thus represented accurate results. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The company paid for surveys to be conducted during medical conventions using two survey methods. Doctors were given free cartons of Camels at the tobacco company booths and then were immediately asked to indicate their favorite brand. Of course they were going to say Camels. In another scheme, doctors were given free packs of cigarettes at company booths and then, upon exiting the exhibit hall, were asked what cigarette brand they carried in their pocket. This was the "scientific" proof these companies used to peddle their products. When you hear ads claiming 9 out of 10 doctors (or dentists) prefer brand X, you now know how they arrived at these figures.



Drugs are Marketed as Consumer Products

The same tactics that had proven successful by the tobacco industry for so many years are currently being used by the drug industry. Doctors and celebrities promote the latest prescription and non-prescription drugs in the media as if they were health products like vitamins rather than drugs with potentially serious side effects. Fortunately, advertising laws are stricter now than they used to be, so when health claims are made drug companies must also state possible adverse effects in their advertising.

Notice the advertisement for Boniva below.


In many respects it is just like the tobacco ads. Actress Sally Field is pictured promoting the product. "I treat my osteoporosis with Boniva," she says. "Just one pill a month builds strong, healthy bones to help prevent fractures." The bright smiling face of a trusted celebrity drives the message home. The headline accompanying her endorsement reads "In clinical studies after just one year on Boniva, 9 out of 10 women had improved bone density." Where have we heard statistics like this before? Who conducted the clinical study? The drug manufacturer of course, who like the tobacco industry carefully contrived the study to get favorable results.

Since this is a prescription drug you can't run out and buy it yourself, you must ask your doctor for it. So at the bottom of the ad is the often repeated closing statement, "Ask your doctor if Boniva is right for you."


From reading this ad, Boniva looks like a wonder drug without risks, yet when you turn the page you find two more pages describing some the many adverse side effects and precautions associated with the drug, which by law the company is required to include.






 Users are cautioned to stop taking the drug and contact their doctors if the drug causes pain or difficulty in swallowing, chest pain, or heartburn that does not get better, as these symptoms may lead to more serious complications. Boniva may also cause diarrhea, dizziness, headache, fatigue, muscle weakness, swelling, pain in the arms or legs, upset stomach, flu-like symptoms, severe bone, joint and/or muscle pain, and serious jaw problems associated with delayed healing and increased risk of infection, following dental procedures. These are not all the side effects, only the most common. Note that this information is presented in a dull, plain text in tiny barely readable type so that readers will skip past these pages without reading it. In short, a serious drug is presented as a wonder cure and the side effects are passed over as if inconsequential.

Boniva along with Fosamax and Actonel are biphosphonate drugs used to treat osteoporosis. Biphosphonates are antiresorptive medicines that slow or stop the natural process that dissolves bone tissue, resulting in increased bone density. Increased bone density is assumed to also increase bone strength, unfortunately this is not the case. They work by killing bone cells called osteoclasts. They are nothing more than poisons! Bone building involves a balance between two types of cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclasts dismantle old bone cells and osteoblasts build new bone cells to take their place. This is the natural process of bone regeneration and maintenance. Killing the osteoclasts leaves only osteoblasts, which increases bone density but not bone strength. As a result, bones become thicker, but not stronger. In fact, risk of bone fractures increases! Biphosphonates wreck havoc throughout the body. Taking these drugs provides no benefit and increases risks of numerous health problems including osteoporosis.

Below are examples of a few more drug advertisements. They are all basically the same, depicting the drugs as healthy consumer goods rather than potentially dangerous medicines, followed by pages of precautions and a listing of side effects.








While some drugs may have their place, in general they are too often used indiscriminately without any regard to their side effects and the harm they may cause. They are peddled by manufacturers to everyone for the sole sake of profit. For example, cholesterol-lowering drugs are now being recommended to children as a preventative measure against the possibility of developing heart disease decades later, which is clearly just a ploy to sell more drugs.

Drugs aren't harmless vitamins that can be taken indiscriminately, but serious medications that require medical supervision and wisdom.

What about the studies that support their usefulness and safety? Don't the drug companies have studies backing up their claims? Drug companies sponsor lots of studies, most of which depict their products in a positive light. Since people have become suspicious of company sponsored studies, the drug industry has resorted to hiding their sponsorship by producing ghostwritten studies—studies written by drug company employees but supposedly authored by noted researchers at respected institutions. These authors have not participated in any of the research and may not have even read the studies which they are credited to have written. These studies are designed and written to favor the drug company's product. It's all a scam just like the tobacco studies. Nearly all of the studies published in the leading medical journals evaluating the effectiveness of drugs are contrived and misleading. (See the article on medical ghostwriting titled "Report Urges More Curbs on Medical Ghostwriting" by Natash Singer New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com.  See also, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" by John Ioannidis, MD, PLoS Medicine. http://www.plosmedicine.org.)




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Copyright © 2010,  Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.