# Did a gadolinium contrast agent used for MRIs “poison” Chuck Norris’ wife Gena?

Earlier this month, Chuck Norris and his wife Gena filed a lawsuit against manufacturers of MRI contrast agents, claiming that the gadolinium in them had “poisoned” Gena. But did it? The evidence linking gadolinium with the symptoms Gena Norris suffered is, even under the most generous interpretation, quite shaky, and there is no doubt that she has been victimized by quacks.

As I worked my way back through the list of things that happened while I was on an involuntary hiatus from producing new material as I frantically transferred content from Respectful Insolence, Mark 2 to this new version of Respectful Insolence, I realized something last night. I missed something that had caught my eye to the point that I had thought of treating it on my not-so-secret other blog. I was reminded of it when I saw it pop up again yesterday on the ever-quacky RealFarmacy.com website in the form of an article entitled “I Saw Death in Her Eyes.” Chuck Norris Warns About a Common Medical Procedure That Almost Killed His Wife, yet Millions of Americans Undergo It Every Year. Yes, that title is a major bit of clickbait. Unfortunately, it worked, at least for me. Fortunately, it provided a bit of blogging material, namely a new dubious health claim that I had not heard before: Chuck Norris thinks that the gadolinium-containing contrast agent used for an MRI almost killed his wife Gena. Here’s the scoop:

Gena has been struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and was instructed to get three MRIs in one week to evaluate her condition. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical test that most people go through at least once in their lifetime. What the Norris’s family did not realize is this test has a serious but little-known side effect.

Right after the third MRI, Gena ended up in the emergency room for six nights in a row. She was bombarded with mysterious health symptoms that left the E.R. medical staff feeling clueless. She was tested for cancer, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and many other conditions, but none matched her symptoms.

“What’s wrong with you?” the doctors asked, and all Gena could say is: “I’m burning. That’s all I can tell you is I’m burning all over. I feel like I have acid everywhere in my tissue…I’m on fire.”

Not surprisingly, everybody’s favorite antivaccine reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, has latched on to the issue, doing a report on it:

In case you’re not familiar with it, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a chronic systemic inflammatory disease which can involve tissues and organs other than its usual target, the joints. It can cause skin rashes and nodules, vasculitis, Raynaud’s phenomenon (constriction of the blood vessels in the hands), and neutrophilic dermatoses. A burning sensation in various parts of the body, particularly the joints, is not an unusual symptom of RA. So are a variety of other health issues and symptoms aside from the classic symptoms of pain and decreased range of motion in the joints, usually the primary target of RA. Naturally, seeking correlation, Gena Norris “did her own research,” which is usually a bad sign with respect to the medical accuracy of a conclusion:

Through pain, Gena took researching into her own hands, looking through published medical literature and patient accounts until she what caused her suffering – a toxic heavy metal called gadolinium that is used an pre-MRI injection to enhances the test images.

The next night that she ended up in the hospital, Gena pleaded with her doctors to look into what she found.

“I’m only going to be able to tell you this one time and I need you to listen to me very closely. I have been poisoned with gadolinium and we don’t have much time to figure out how to get this out of my body or I am going to die,” she told the medical staff.

Gadolinium is a contrast agent that is commonly used for MRI scans. It’s a metal ion that’s used in MRI contrast agents because gadolinium enhances and improves the quality of the MRI images, increasing the clarity and detail that can be achieved. Gadolinium contrast agents all consist of a gadolinium ion linked to a chelating agent that, as all chelating agents used in the body are intended to do, aids in the excretion of the gadolinium metal ion in the urine, thus obviating the toxicity of the naked gadolinium ion. In patients with normal kidney function, 90% of the gadolinium contrast medium is eliminated via the urine within 24 hours.

Are gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) more toxic than previously thought, though? That’s the crux of the story and the question raised by it. GBCAs have been used for a couple of decades with very few reports of problems and have an excellent safety record. However, more recent studies suggest that small amounts of gadolinium can be retained in some tissues, including the brain. Is it this gadolinium that is causing problems in people like Gena Norris? More on that later and whether that retained gadolinium causes harm.

First, what I do know is that the story about Norris’ wife that’s been circulating the last couple of weeks has a number of red flags, not the least of which is how it demonstrates that there is a whole cottage industry of quacks who prey on people like the Gena Norris and try to “detoxify” them of their gadolinium toxicity. Norris describes this phenomenon, without even realizing it:

Her hospital in Houston, Texas was of no help, so her husband took her to a clinic in Reno, Nevada (and later to China) where an intensive alternative treatment was administrated.

At the time Gena could not swallow. Her arm was drawn up in a severe cramp. And there were many other bodily issues. Her whole body was simply not properly functioning.

The substance that poisoned her, gadolinium, is thought to leave the body immediately after the procedure, but as the tests showed, Gena’s body contained dangerous amounts of this heavy metal long after the MRIs took place. This heavy metal injury left her fighting for her life for months.

Modern medicine was powerless to fix the problem that it caused. Thankfully, the Norris family found alternative methods of detoxification. It took a while, but the search was well worth it (after all, what’s more important than health?).

Gena laid in bed for five months, hooked on IVs. Later, she purchased a hyperbaric chamber to aid her brain’s healing.

Finally she started recovering, and then Gena slowly returned to life.

Vague symptoms that don’t fit a diagnosis? Check. Possibly (likely, even) confusing correlation with causation regarding symptom onset? Check. Quack treatments like hyperbaric chambers, which, seemingly, can cure everything that ails you? Check. “Detoxification” fixed the problem? Check. You get the idea. It doesn’t help that the Norrises are suing several medical device manufacturers, claiming harm. The lawsuit seeks \$10 million in damages, a sum that Norris claims is necessary to cover the medical costs that his wife faces.

When I read about the lawsuits, my first thought is that that sounded like a hell of a lot of money for medical expenses, which brings us to another red flag that I found while researching this post. I found this red flag in a Change.org petition that popped up in Google searches about the case from an entity called the MedInsight Research Institute that claims a staggering cost to the Norrises for Gena to recover from her “gadolinium toxicity.” This is a cost that caused even my jaw to drop. Let’s just put it this way. It’s far higher than any cost I’ve seen associated with patients seeking out cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski. Basically, if this Change.org petition is to be believed, it cost the Norrises over \$2 million to treat Gena. No, I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. I mean it. We’re talking \$2 million:

Fortunately, Gena found a clinic in Reno, Nevada and then one in China who treated her successfully, but it was expensive (spending \$1.18 million in 2014 alone), took 5 months of intensive IV therapy, and she was bedridden the entire time. When she returned home she bought a hyperbaric chamber, which helped. Gena is now sharing her story with the world to raise awareness about the potential ill effects of gadolinium.

In Attkisson’s report, the Norrises shared their tax records showing medical expenses of \$821,000 dollars in 2013, \$1.18 million in 2014, and \$293,000 in 2015. I got an idea of just what sorts of quackery, besides purchasing a hyperbaric oxygen chamber were being used to treat Gena Noris through a shot of her at the Chinese clinic, where she is portrayed undergoing acupuncture, with a man in the background obviously undergoing cupping.

Yes, so many red flags, and apparently \$2 million is only the start of what Chuck and Gena Norris think they need to treat Gena. Continuing my research, I also can’t help but note that MedInsight Research Institute, while appearing to champion little known medical issues, also raises a few red flags of its own. For instance, it’s a champion of low dose naltrexone, which, if you believe its advocates, is another cure-all. Of note, MedInsight Research Institute published a recent review article. While it presents a lot of in vitro and animal data, the best it could come up with for human data was this:

The results of a patient advocacy group-initiated survey of 17 patients (Gadoliniumtoxicity.com) show the onset of a group of symptoms within a month of their last MRI (Gadolinium Toxicity: A Survey of the Chronic Effects of Retained Gadolinium from Contrast MRIs 2015). These symptoms range from neurological, musculoskeletal, to dermal, including pain (reported by 100 % of patients surveyed), muscle symptoms reported by 88 %, and ocular symptoms (reported by 76 %). For each additional symptom category (e.g., dermal, cognitive, ENT), more than 50 % of those surveyed reported symptoms in each of these and other categories. Notably, 15 of the 17 patients surveyed had urinary gadolinium levels above expected levels for patients with normal renal function (reference range is 0.0–0.4 mcg Gd/24-h). This information can serve as a guide for retrospective and prospective studies to determine associations between multiple GBCA administration and adverse health effects.

I went over to GadoliniumToxicity.com. It, too, has a lot of red flags. There are self-reported descriptions of the horrors of gadolinium, but precious little in the way of actual science. There are dubious treatment options touted, such as chelation therapy (shades of mercury in vaccines!), infrared saunas, and supplements. There is the aforementioned survey of a 17 patients that is gussied up to look like a real research article but is clearly not an article published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Then there are passages like this:

A wellness doctor or a naturopathic doctor will be the best source for having urine testing conducted by Genova Diagnostics or Doctor’s Data independent clinical laboratories. These labs do their testing for Gadolinium as part of a toxic metals panel that is typically used by the doctor to determine if Chelation might benefit the patient.

Doctor’s Data is doing gadolinium testing? Of course it is. Who else would be doing it, but the same company who offers provoked urine testing for heavy metals, tests that are, by design, almost always positive, a company known for abusive lawsuits against critics like Stephen Barrett, who has pointed out how pseudoscientific its heavy metal urine tests are? Indeed, if you look carefully at Attkisson’s report, specifically the scene where she is looking at her lab reports, you might just notice the Doctor’s Data logo on top of multiple pages.

Then there’s this:

The Genova Diagnostics urine test for Gadolinium is also available through several online services. The collection and testing process is exactly the same as if done through a local doctor except that the report is sent directly to the patient. Genova Diagnostics has two test panels that include the Gadolinium test. You should get either the Toxic Elements Clearance Profile or the Comprehensive Urine Element Panel.

Here’s a hint. Any time you see a panel called the Toxic Elements Clearance Profile, be skeptical. It’s probably a dubious or unproven (at best) test, if not out-and-out quackery.

This is a good time for me to point out that, contrary to what various antivaxers and alternative medicine mavens who detest me claim, I’m not so trusting of conventional medicine to assume automatically that GBCA are perfectly safe and that there’s no way they could be causing the harm claimed by Gena Norris and the people who started GadoliniumToxicity.com. I highly doubt that that’s the case here, given the level of testing and the 20 year history of GBCA use for MRI with a generally excellent safety record. However, I leave myself open to the possibility that all is not well and there might be a rare reaction to GBCAs producing symptoms like Gena Norris’ that hasn’t been described in the medical literature yet.

After all, we do know one rare and serious reaction to gadolinium. This reaction was reported over a decade ago in patients with severe preexisting kidney disease, dubbed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), also known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD), and found to result from the use of GBCAs. NSF is a rare and debilitating disease that is characterized by skin contractures (or localized skin thickening and tightening) and internal organ damage. In brief, it’s a disease resembling scleroderma, at least clinically. Such patients can develop large areas of indurated skin with fibrous nodules and plaques, as well as joint contractures with accompanying limited range of motion. Most patients who develop NSF are on dialysis. Evidence for a link between gadolinium-containing contrast agents for MRI and NSF was first described in a case series of 13 patients, all of whom developed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis after being exposed to gadolinium. Basically, NSF always occurs (with rare exceptions) in patients with renal insufficiency who have had imaging studies using gadolinium. That gadolinium can on rare occasions trigger this condition in patients with severe renal disease is now accepted science.

Here’s the thing, though: Contrary to the insinuations of conspiracy to cover up a link between gadolinium and disease in Gena Norris and other patients with similar vague symptoms, when reports of NSF began to surface, scientists investigated, and ultimately major radiology societies changed their practice guidelines on how gadolinium contrast was used for MRI imaging in patients at risk for NSF.

As I read the stories about Chuck Norris and his wife Gena, I kept wondering how on earth they could have racked up such high medical bills to treat his wife’s condition. Obviously, the methods they were using must not have been covered by the presumably very good health insurance that Norris and his wife almost certainly must have. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to deduct them on their taxes. This suggests strongly that the treatments were all of the unproven variety for which insurance doesn’t pay. So which clinic, exactly, in Reno is treating patients for “gadolinium toxicity.” Fortunately, there is Facebook, where patients were more than willing to out the clinic. Basically, it appears to be someone named Bruce Fong at the Sierra Integrative Medical Center in Reno, Nevada.

Dr. Bruce Fong was introduced to natural medicine and homeopathic medicine as a young child and continues with that tradition today. He has followed in the family footsteps of medicine and is rooted in the belief that we must heal and prevent human disease and suffering. Optimal health may be achieved by determining and remedying the root cause of illness.Dr. Fong has been at the forefront of alternative therapies for immune related diseases, including special treatment plans which combine the best options from a broad array of homeopathic, internal, Chinese and traditional medicine.As Medical Director at Sierra Integrative Medical Center, Dr. Fong is focused on solving root causes, not treating symptoms or masking issues falsely with compounded prescriptions.

In other words, he’s a quack. I mean, look at the list of services Dr. Fong offers. There are a lot of quack treatments there. True, the average person might not recognize them as such, but I do, and I’m sure that the vast majority of my readers will too: chelation therapy, homeopathy, lymphatic massage, “detox” footbaths, and more. Once I knew this, I was able to find Chuck Norris’ own account (which, truth be told, I should have found before):

This revelation about the source of her condition led us to Dr. Bruce Fong at the Sierra Integrative Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, a facility known for its success in combining conventional and alternative therapies in confronting illness. He quickly was able to confirm our theory. Tests revealed that the gadolinium, which was supposed to be gone from her body hours after each MRI, had remained at levels that were literally off the charts. Once Dr. Fong’s initial treatment restored Gena’s health to the point she was able to travel, we returned to Texas and the care of Dr. Alfred Johnson, a doctor of internal medicine with special interest in the area of chronic illness and environmental medicine. Dr. Johnson helped direct a course of treatment that would ultimately lead to her recovery.

In fairness, there are now newer tests that can detect gadolinium in the urine, and mass spectrometry on biopsied tissue specimens has been used to demonstrate that gadolinium can remain in tissues. Its accumulation doesn’t appear to be tissue-specific, but rather throughout the body. The question, as always, is: Does this tiny amount of gadolinium cause disease, particularly a disease with the symptoms described by Gena Norris?

Google searches for Dr. Alfred Johnson show him popping up in a lot of alternative medicine sites. His website shows quite unequivocally (in my opinion, at least), indicates that Dr. Johnson is a quack. Don’t believe me? Check out his list of services, which, of course, includes The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy. He also touts breast thermography, which is about as reliable an indication of a quack as I’ve ever seen. He shows up prominently in Attkisson’s report as well.

Again, in fairness, just because a whole lot of quacks, particularly (but not limited to) naturopaths and “holistic” practitioners have jumped on the bandwagon of blaming gadolinium for every ailment under the sun doesn’t mean that there might not be something bad going on here. However, it is far more likely that there isn’t. The symptom complexes reported by patients to be associated with gadolinium are inconsistent; other than chronic pain and “brain fog” (both very nonspecific symptoms), there doesn’t seem to be an identifiable syndrome. Nor does there appear to be a consistent relationship between gadolinium exposure and the symptoms reported, with some reporting severe symptoms after one MRI and others after multiple MRIs. The timing between MRI and symptom onset varies widely as well.

It also turns out that the FDA spent two years looking at the question of whether GBCAs are associated with health issues and on May 22, 2017 published an update to its original 2015 report, concluding:

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review to date has not identified adverse health effects from gadolinium retained in the brain after the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All GBCAs may be associated with some gadolinium retention in the brain and other body tissues. However, because we identified no evidence to date that gadolinium retention in the brain from any of the GBCAs, including GBCAs associated with higher retention of gadolinium, is harmful, restricting GBCA use is not warranted at this time. We will continue to assess the safety of GBCAs and plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.

And:

A recent review by the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also identified no adverse health effects with gadolinium retention in the brain, but that Committee recommended suspending the marketing authorization of certain linear GBCAs because they cause a greater retention of gadolinium in the brain compared to macrocyclic GBCAs. The Committee’s recommendation is currently undergoing an appeal, which will be further reviewed by the PRAC and subsequently by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

We are continuing to assess the safety of GBCAs. FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) is conducting a study on brain retention of GBCAs in rats. Other research is also being conducted about how gadolinium is retained in the body. We will update the public when new information becomes available and we plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.

That public meeting was held in September, and as a result the FDA did add a warning regarding gadolinium contrast agents that gadolinium can be retained in human tissues and that minute traces of gadolinium may occur in slightly greater amounts with linear GBCAs, compared with macrocyclic agents/ The FDA also recommended strategies to minimize gadolinium retention for certain patient populations that may be at greater risk.

Is it possible that gadolinium caused the symptoms experienced by Gena Norris and others? Sure. Is it likely? My assessment, based on existing scientific literature, is that it is extremely unlikely that Gena Norris’ symptoms were caused by a GBCA used for the MRIs that she underwent and that it’s also incredibly unlikely that GBCAs are causing the health problems attributed to them (other than the now well-accepted condition of NSF in rare patients with severe kidney disease, of course). I do, however, remain open to evidence and science, and if future well-designed studies provide stronger evidence of a link I will revise my opinion accordingly.

Based on currently existing evidence I definitely think it’s way premature to propose a new conditition, “gadolinium deposition disease,” as Richard Semelka did in a 2016 paper to describe patients “with normal or near normal renal function who develop persistent symptoms that arise hours to 2 months after the administration of GBCAs.” The reason is that neither a distinct syndrome nor causation by gadolinium has been conclusively demonstrated yet—or even strongly suggested. I also note that Semelka based his proposal entirely on the survey of the 17 patients posted at GadoliniumToxicity.com, plus some in vitro and animal studies and the studies that identified NSF as a complication of gadolinium. As Dr. Robert McDonald put it in a Medscape interview:

First, we have already conducted the “experiment”: We’ve given 400 million doses to a few hundred million people, and have not seen any convincing evidence of systematic symptoms after exposure.

Controlled scientific data will come soon and should help clarify things. There was a study in JAMA last year that suggested no increase in Parkinson disease in patients from Canada.[12]

We already have some clues that this is probably safe, but I think we still have to do due diligence as physicians and scientists and prove that it is safe. The burden of proof is on us, and the community is working as fast as it can.

He also notes that most people don’t get many (or any) MRIs and this:

The patients getting 30 or 40 doses of gadolinium are generally pretty sick. They need their gadolinium-enhanced imaging because it provides critical diagnostic information. In the case of brain tumors, it absolutely helps us to understand whether or not the tumor is stable, growing, or reacting favorably (ie shrinking) to therapy.

Just let me be clear: If GBCAs were removed from clinical practice, we would be set back 20-30 years in terms of our diagnostic capability. The same is true in cardiac MRI.

Gena Norris, for instance, was getting so many MRIs in a short period of time because she was sick with a chronic health condition. So were the vast majority of the 17 patients who answered the survey at GadoliniumToxicity.com

As we wait for more science, what do I see is a tragedy in which patients who are suffering from symptoms not well addressed by medical science at the moment are being preyed upon by quacks. they really believe they were harmed by gadolinium and that the quackery to which they are being subjected will help them. Listening to the blandishments of the quacks, these patients, like Gena Norris, are wasting huge sums of money (to them) for treatments that are incredibly unlikely to help them.

## By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

## 89 replies on “Did a gadolinium contrast agent used for MRIs “poison” Chuck Norris’ wife Gena?”

MI Dawnsays:

I’m not a rheumatologist, or even close. But is it normal to have 3 MRIs in 1 week for rheumatic arthritis? What changes would they expect to see in such a short time?

Good question. Maybe they’re different areas of the skeleton? But I’m really not sure why three would be needed.

This could be “VIP Syndrome” where the patients gets over tested due to their celebrity status.

Jeffsays:

The statement ” 3 MRIs in 1 week is very vague”…. It is possible to have 3 MRIs in 1 week because an MRI has different protocols for each part of the body. So if the doctor wanted to look at the shoulder, elbow and wrist, it would be difficult for the patient to lay still for up to 2-3 hours on a hard time in one setting. Each protocol scan time can range from 30mins to 1 hour. MRI can show early signs of RA that are not seen in xray such as inflammation, bone marrow, bone erosion,etc. MRI is used for soft tissue abnormalities and pathology. It can show if patients are reacting to treatment. If a patient has multiple swollen and tender joints, an MRI can’t take pictures of all the joints at the same time in detail, it would be impossible. The only known reason for a whole body MRI scan is the detection of multiple myeloma, looking for spots on the bones. Hopefully this helps to answer your first question. The second question, I have no clue..

palindromsays:

I vaguely remember a HuffPo commenter years ago who would pop up on vaccine threads with one long screed after another claiming they had been poisoned by gadolinium contrast agents. They appeared to be, uh, nuts.

Also, this particular story doesn’t really fit in the narrative of “Chuck Norris Facts”.

Yah, me too. Her name is eluding me.

Chemmomo (needs a new nym for the new site)says:

If the gadolinium contrast agent is being retained systematically, wouldn’t it be detectable by running another MRI – without administering another dose of the contrast agent?

My impression is that that’s controversial. The amount retained is so small that MRI can’t detect it, although there are papers out there claiming to be able to detect it on (if I recall correctly) the T1-weighted image. Not everyone believes it.

Johnsays:

“We already have some clues that this is probably safe, but I think we still have to do due diligence as physicians and scientists and prove that it is safe. The burden of proof is on us, and the community is working as fast as it can. ”

“Probably safe”…”due diligence as physicians and scientists and prove that it is safe”. Toxic metals are being infused into bodies, and its safety has not yet been proven? This is quackery and irresponsible medicine at its best.

Catrionasays:

So, just to be absolutely clear, you appear to be saying that you don’t understand how a heavy metal, which is known to cause inhibition of calcium channels, disruption of voltage-dependent anion channels, blocking of stretch activated channels, blocking of non-selective sodium leak channels, modification of mechano-gated ion channel activity (including the epithelial sodium channel), causes mitochondrial toxicity, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, is a probable carcinogen and can interfere with gluconeogenesis by inhibiting forkhead box transcription, can cause a variety of symptoms which can be attributed to damage of any end organ because the symptoms are too vague for you to comprehend? And you believe that, despite the fact that the only long term studies looking at safety have identified nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (a devastating, painful, debilitating, usually fatal condition characterized by many “vague symptoms” as well as skin and joint changes) and pregnancy loss and inflammatory conditions in the offspring of women who received gadolinium based contrast agents during pregnancy, these agents are “safe and effective”? The FDA has not spent 2 years looking for evidence of toxicity from GBCAs. They collected data on retention. They have not reviewed a single long term study looking at safety outcomes beyond about 1 month after scans have been performed. Semelka has also published a short case series on 4 patients who remain symptomatic and are still excreting gadolinium in their urine months and years after receiving GBCAs. The long term safety studies on GBCAs are about as existent as the ones on thalidomide were when it was described as “safe and effective”.

I’m not sure that just stating that you are a doctor is sufficient qualification to start throwing around the term “quack” when you have failed to do your due diligence and fact check for the toxicity or safety of a known toxic heavy metal which is also now known to retain in the bones, brains, skin and organs of all people who have been injected with it, regardless of renal function. You have also failed to check the studies on autopsies and tissue samples from hip replacements which provide further evidence of gadolinium retention. You have also failed to read about the process of transmetallation, which causes release of free gadolinium from its chelating agent, results in depletion of zinc, and causes retention of insoluble highly toxic gadolinium salts.

I am thoroughly disappointed in your lack of professionalism in publishing your opinions without scientific backup, and pretending that having a medical background supercedes any requirement for rigorously checking how GBCAs can cause chronic illness as well as how those symptoms may be ameliorated, and how gadolinium may be chelated again and removed from the body.

You know, you sound a lot like antivaxers who blame mercury in vaccines for autism. They use very similar arguments. And, yes, I did read about all those things, as well as quite a few of those studies. I wasn’t impressed because not one of those studies linked gadolinium retention to antivaxers disease or syndrome other than NSF, nor have any of those quacks shown in anything resembling a rigorous randomized clinical trial that their quackery removes gadolinium or reverses the symptoms. Yet somehow they’re charging so much that the Norrises spent over \$2 million in three years on their nostrums.

And, no, I didn’t say I don’t understand how gadolinium could be toxic. I explained the evidence showing that gadolinium-based contrast agents are unlikely to be the cause of Gena Norris’ symptoms or the symptoms of those on GadoliniumToxicity.com. That’s a different question. Do please read for comprehension in the future.

Anon this timesays:

I’ve probably had at least a dozen MRIs with gadolinium contrast, in the seventeen years since I was diagnosed with MS. It’s not what I’d call fun–there is a burning sensation when the contrast medium enters the veins–but at this point it’s routine, like them checking liver enzymes because of my medications.

As Orac notes, most of us who have had several such MRIs already had at least one chronic condition (the doctor did use an MRI to confirm my diagnosis, but I was in there because of relevant symptoms. And one quick description of MS is that it’s a chronic degenerative disease: the expectation is that it will get worse, hopefully slowly. That makes it hard to be sure whether a new symptom is from the MS (many things could be). It’s very easy to start blaming everything on that, and then it turns out the problem is my shoes don’t fit. Or to look for other explanations, because if it’s something else, that something else might be curable.

It wouldn’t be easy to either show or rule out possible effects of the contrast medium in pooled patient records from people with MS, even though there’s some good data there, including all those MRIs.

“Right after the third MRI, Gena ended up in the emergency room for six nights in a row.”

I find this odd in that if you keep going to the same ER for more than 2-3 nights in a row, you tend to be admitted.

I’m not entirely clear on this, either. She said she had three MRIs in a week, but did she end up in the emergency room the first one? The second one? The third one?

MarkNsays:

Certainly, admit and provide supportive care while sample serum and urine are analyzed to r/o for toxicity. I’m hardpressed to say gadolinium/GDD wasn’t ruled out with the extent of visitation. Rather, more that the patient didn’t like the objective answer from the lab. Then, continued on with her psychosomatic complaint.

I get people all the time in the ED claiming anaphylaxis from a medication they don’t want to stay compliant with, only to find nothing wrong with them.

aairfcchasays:

Could this have been a plain if severe (pseudo)allergic reaction? Going from MRI pretty straight to the ER doesn’t quite sound like a chronic effect even if it was the third MRI in a short period.

Chris Hickie: I find this odd in that if you keep going to the same ER for more than 2-3 nights in a row, you tend to be admitted.

Agreed. Most of my relatives who’ve visited emergency rooms tend to get admitted after one visit. (Granted, two were elderly, one has a couple of chronic health conditions, and one had a history of asthma.) Except for my sibling and I- we were sent on our merry ways after getting stitched up. Although I did refuse an emergency room visit after I got hit by the car. In my slight defense, my bike took most of my damage, and I hadn’t broken any bones. I find it odd that Mrs. Norris would have to visit more than one emergency room.

Eric Lundsays:

Well, yes, you might not be admitted as the result of one visit to the emergency room (depending why you went there). But if you are making a second visit within 24 hours for the same condition, something is definitely wrong enough with you to warrant hospitalization, for observation if for no other reason. If Mrs. Norris ended up in the emergency room on six consecutive nights and wasn’t admitted, somebody on the hospital staff wasn’t doing his job.

Daniel Corcossays:

Where is Herr Doktor? Any news?

JPsays:

My best guess is that he is having coffee and black pudding, or maybe donuts.

He is here under another ‘nym, you will recognize him eventually I’m sure.

Daniel Corcossays:

I am sure that I would recognize him if I read all the posts, but unfortunately I don’t do it. Please tell me if you find him.

Smut Clydesays:

I am sure he is flattered by the concern.

Daniel Corcossays:

Now I recognize you!

Chrissysays:

No one “encouraged” me to write the article. (Nice pharma shill gambit, though. Slightly more subtle than usual from those posting wall-of-text rants in the comments.)

Chrissysays:

Keep in mind that our wall-of-texts rants aren’t written solely for you. They are written for your readers. Why? Because knowledge is power…not money. How did I do on being subtle again?

There’s no money to be made at this blog. Quite the contrary. I pay for the hosting. There are no ads. I maintain the blog myself, with some (free) technical help from a regular reader. I do this because I believe in what I write and stand for. This is also in marked contrast to the quacks treating Gena Norris and other patients who think they’ve been poisoned by gadolinium, who are raking in enormous sums of money preying on desperate patients with real symptoms by selling them treatments that have no good scientific evidence of efficacy.

As for your wall-of-text rant, it doesn’t really convey anything I’d refer to as scientific knowledge.

Chrissays:

“Keep in mind that our wall-of-texts rants aren’t written solely for you.”

This reader finds your wall of text unreadable. There is this concept taught in middle school language arts class called “rhetoric.” It how to use paragraphs and collecting of ideas into a coherent argument. This is addition to basic grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure.

And if you are writing a science report, you need to cite actual science papers. Not random websites of various unverified anecdotes.

Chrissays:

Which I failed to do by skipping a tiny word in “This is in addition to basic grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure..

Denice Waltersays:

@ Chrissy:

I understand why you feel as you do: many people are susceptible to pseudoscience when it is represented as ‘cutting edge’ medicine. In fact there’s an entire website dedicated to how and why this is a very lucrative business- it’s Quackwatch and I suggest that you read articles in the General Observations section ( Quackery and Historical) as a start. Of course, Orac has tons of material right here @ RI- available through Search.

If someone isn’t well versed in research and the intricacies of physiology, an unscrupulous entrepreneur can convince him or her to try out a new product or procedure ESPECIALLY if standard medicine is not providing relief. There are conditions that are chronic and not amenable to easy treatment or perhaps physicians recommend difficult or long term solutions. Suppose someone has painful arthritis that really interferes with daily living- not all drugs work well, surgery is painful and healing takes a long time if it happens at all. Then, a website sings the praises of a supplement or ‘healing food’ that is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain- whoever owns the website promises ‘instant relief” or ‘total cures’. I know of one salesman who prescribes cherry concentrate and juiced ginger root for serious pain like that of arthritis.” Throw away your meds and Ibuprofen!”, he says with unshakable certainty. Usually, salesmen like these- and I can name them- simultaneously undermine listeners’/ readers’ confidence in regular medicine: they mention deep seated corruption and criminal activities by pharmaceutical companies and the entrenched greed of doctors and other professionals whereas they themselves are actually healers and humanitarians whose main concern is YOUR health and happiness.

AS an example, my father lived to an extremely advanced age: he had an arthritic knee that really hurt however because of his heart condition he couldn’t have surgery. In addition, because he had a history of ulcers, the meds that could be prescribed were very limited or OTC. On his own, he found a product touted as a pain reliever- it was an inexpensive crème containing aloe vera which he obtained through mail order. He believed that it helped him and he used it regularly. Now I don’t imagine that it REALLY had a physiological effect that stopped the pain BUT perhaps his beliefs and his actions ( sitting still, rubbing the knee) may have helped him to deal with the pain better. In fact as he said himself maybe it was self-hypnosis.
BUT this only cost very little not 2 million.

Ross Milessays:

@Chrissy – Note you mentioned Mayo Clinic and gadoliniumtoxicity.com but did not name the people who you claim helped you. Since I am a reader being interested in continuing my education and gaining any additional insight, please provide one or more names and or institution.

nahantsays:

I have been dealing with the effects of Gadolinium for over 9 years now so your article is based on non investigation of the dangers and that make it as tRumpF would say FAKE NEWS.! My issues started 6 hours after my 3rd MRI with GBCA’s, guess everything I have been and still are going through is all in my head according to you. My doctors both at Stanford and the VA would disagree. If you really did your homework you would find papers by the manufacturer’s own studies in the 80’s showing every injection leaves behind gadolinium to do it’s dirty work. Hopefully you do know that gadolinium is poisonous? It is a heavy metal at 64 on the periodic table making it highly toxic, yes they do bind it but if you remember your chemistry any thing with a higher valence can break those bonds. It is also very close to Calcium and mimics it in your body and you do know how important calcium is to the functions in our bodies right. My doctors having me take 3 tabs of Cholecalciferal 1,000, 12 tabs CA Citrate 950 MG just to keep my calcium levels in the safe range and they are checking my chemistry bi-monthly.

As for vaccinations I have gotten everyone my Doctors ask me to for my age. I am not an antivaccer and in fact the Polio vaccine saved my life as a youngster. And if you ever served you know they give you shots for all kinds of diseases. Your equivalency is BS.

Please do your self and your followers the courtesy of doing the required research to back your claims up especially as you are calling people quacks. To me you are preaching Quackery when you say that Gd is perfectly safe and you are dead wrong about that, I am living proof. Also Look up the meeting the FDA had on this subject last September 8th, you will find both sides represented and now some of those same doctors are no taking a closer look on their use and safety.
I am the owner of a closed support group with close to 500 members and I have read hundreds of horror stories about the effects including young children under 6 who have been negatively affected, these kids face a life of poor quality as their is no real way to get rid of Gd to date. Oh and we have members from most of the English speaking countries and a few where English is their second language, they can’t all be lying can they?
When you learn the truth please update your post with the facts as they truly are.
Hope you have a happy holiday season, I know mine will be filled with pain,
Bill

Chrissysays:

Orac, I’m glad to hear there is no money to be made from your blog. It’s difficult for me and others with normal kidney function who have retained this metal and are now living with horrible symptoms (which are real) from these GBCAs to read your blog. Everyone has an opinion…I get it. However, I strongly feel that you really will revise your opinion accordingly when new scientific evidence surfaces on this subject. There is actually a lot of evidence out there waiting to be recognized. There has to be times when people look past medical literature and realize that everything written on paper and published in medical journals can not be more important than the voice of a patient desperately letting their doctors know that something is terrible wrong with their health and what they are feeling.

Hey Chris, how am I doing with my grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure and my rhetoric? I gave you your own paragraph.

Anyway, there will be people out there that will help you, and then there will be people out there that deceive you, like the quacks you speak about. So I completely agree that exposing quacks out there is important, but not every doctor outside of mainstream medicine is a quack. There are people out there, like people who helped Gena and myself, that are not taking advantage of us and genuinely care about helping us heal. They are our only hope right now. Medical literature just leaves people with normal kidney function that retained this toxic metal in the dark.

Denice, I will read all of the articles you suggested to learn more about what to look out for. I know that the holistic doctor I am seeing is definitely not a quack. He cares for my health and works very closely with my primary care physician. They talk and discuss my health on a regular basis and my primary care physician trusts him. Also I know that Gena would not have spent all of that money if she felt the treatments and doctors weren’t helping her symptoms. I don’t think anyone would continue to pay money out of their pockets on something that didn’t provide them relief. I know I wouldn’t. Unfortunately, healing our bodies from a metal that is toxic to humans doesn’t come with a low cost. I wish it did.

Ross, I don’t have a name of an institution. I see just one holistic doctor and get treated by him. I will not share his name on a public site like this one. I do, however, share his name with people in my support group. I hope that everyone who believes that these GBCAs cause no harm to people never ever go through this or have a reason to join the support group I am in. It is a scary and painful situation to be in, and I wouldn’t even wish it on my own worst enemy.

Chrissays:

Much better. Thank you.

Ross Milessays:

@Chrissy – Fair enough on not sharing your one holistic doctor, and hopefully you are correct on the discourse with your PCP. Nobody here wants anyone to lose their health in addition to their money to essential quackery. Where I disagree with you: 1/ “Gena would not have spent all of that money if she felt the treatments and doctors weren’t helping her symptoms” For 2 million dollars? Somehow I do not believe you have come anywhere close to such an absurd sum nor can I see any justification for such an amount in this case. There is a long and growing list of many who “felt” and paid vast sums to, in many instances, lose their life. Examples are all over this site 2/ Please read some posts by Orac on “Naturopathy” using the search feature as to why a ND is not a doctor which I presume your “holistic doctor” is. 3/ Where you wrote “companies that make the product, approve the product, and distribute the product turn their cheeks in order to protect their financial gains” Companies do not approve the product, the FDA (or from where I am, Health Canada) does and that process you should learn about; much of which is in the “Clinical trials” search category or go directly to the FDA. There are several more points, but from casual observation, the above, plus your willingness to pursue what Denice has suggested will keep you busy for some time to come.

Denice Waltersays:

@ Ross Miles:

There’s another aspect to this that I didn’t mention: sometimes when people spend a lot of money on something- quackery or anything, say boats- they find ways to feel that they made the right choice. They may rate the treatment ( or boat) much higher or more useful than people who spent less. There are studies like this which I am too lazy to look up now. People may think that the more expensive product ( say, a food or supplement) is better- more effective, healthier- than the cheaper one. Needless to say, scam artists don’t need research to know this.

Outresays:

Perceived value.

It’s pervasive in every consumer goods and services we buy. I work in manufacturing and we literally add weights to light-weight plastic products in the U.S. market because when ‘too low’ in weight people perceive the product to be less valuable.

Daniel Corcossays:

“There’s no money to be made at this blog.”
Not only that, but it costs something. In addition, you cannot spend all your time on RI and SBM without incomes. Who pays?

Denice Waltersays:

@ Daniel Corcos:

I didn’t know that you believed in the Pharma Shill Gambit.
I don’t think that Orac gets paid at all for ( this incarnation) RI or SBM other than perhaps ad fees on the latter which is a group effort or a small amount on the late Sb RI. It’s a hobby, a pastime You might notice that he is present or absent at particular times: I don’t think that he writes or responds much during the weekday daytime hours because of his duties at the hospital or university.

Yeah, I was a bit…disappointed…in Dan’s invocation of the pharma shill gambit.

In any event, everyone knows that I made a little money blogging for RI when it was hosted on Scienceblogs. I also always said that I didn’t do it for the money, and I didn’t. That’s why, when Sb shut down, I did so much work to transfer all of its old content over to a new installation at a domain I had registered in anticipation of having to “go it alone” someday. It’s why, after about a four week hiatus, I’m back blogging just like before, except that now I’m paying to do it and don’t even have any ads to defray the cost of hosting, domain registration, purchase of WordPress themes, etc. If traffic ever gets back to the point where I have to pay for a more robust and expensive hosting service, then I might use ads to help defray that cost, but until then I’ll just pay the hosting company and keep doing my thing, as before.

Over at my not-so-super-secret other blog, I’ve never been paid. All the ad revenue goes towards the costs of running the blog and the other efforts of the organization that runs the site, along with other skeptical activities and websites, which, given its traffic, are not cheap. They’ve even just hired an actual tech and HTML guy, something I’ll never be able to afford to do in the foreseeable future. Good thing Alain’s willing to help with technical issues, and a couple of others are willing to give me advice regarding WP.

Daniel Corcossays:

A hobby doesn’t need to have a business model. However, when several people are involved, some of them full-time, it is reasonable to ask questions on the business model and how it can influence the reception of information. This is true for any activity related to science, including public funded science, as “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” (Upton Sinclair).

No one is involved full time with this blog or my not-so-super-secret other blog. But thanks for using the bogus “shill gambit.” And you wonder why I no longer take you seriously.

Daniel Corcossays:

Come on, free medical journals are sponsored by companies. It would be naive not to consider this issue.

Alainsays:

@Daniel Corcos,

Full-time?!?! No one work full-time on this blog. In my case, this morning, I was working on a math model of my weekly schedule (for which Brian Deer can attest) because of issues scaling up to meet the demand of this and a few others sites & blogs.

I am primarily a full-time student for which, the weekdays commitment include waking up at 5am, heading to school at 6:30am and getting back home at 5pm to eat and have a 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes power nap then taking care of what’s needed to finish my day.

With the math model, I found out I can allocate close to 30 hours per weekend on all the various commitments that I have from now.

Finally,

Come on, free medical journals are sponsored by companies. It would be naive not to consider this issue.

Please don’t argue from a standpoint of ignorance. It make you look bad.

Alain

That’s never stopped Dan before.

Maureensays:

Given ongoing research, really don’t believe this is mere quackery.. From a recent Wall Street Journal article:

” The term “gadolinium deposition disease” was coined by Richard Semelka, until recently director of MRI Services and a professor of radiology at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, N.C., in a paper published last year in the American Journal of Roentgenology. He estimates that about one in 1,000 people with gadolinium deposits in their body will get sick from it. “We have to figure out who these people are,” he says. “They appear to be people who have a genetic problem with handling heavy metals.”

And this:

Brent Wagner, a staff physician at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio and a nephrologist, says his laboratory studies have found that human cells exposed to gadolinium show signs of fibrosis, or scarring. He says the symptoms that patients with healthy kidneys have complained about are similar to the ones exhibited by kidney patients who develop nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) from gadolinium exposure, a rare disease that causes severe pain and scarring all over the body and in the internal organs.

Dr. Wagner is now using animal models to identify the mechanism that results in patient symptoms. The goal is to develop a screening tool to identify the patients who are at a higher risk of having a bad reaction to the gadolinium. He ultimately hopes to invent a way to lessen their risk of a bad reaction.

Did you read my post? I dealt with Richard Semelka’s proposal to name “gadolinium deposition disease” and explained why I thought he was premature, given that it has not been demonstrated that this entity exists outside of NSF.

Maureensays:

It seems that Dr. Brent Wagner is conducting research which might support Dr. Semelka’s claims. If retained gadolinium causes NSF for those with unhealthy kidneys, and retained gadolinium causes fibrosis in human cells exposed to gadolinium, why is it far fetched, as as Dr Wagner has observed, that those with healthy kidneys would suffer similar symptoms as those with NSF, if they’ve retained gadolinium?

Johnsays:

Why would NSF be exclusive to the reason (renal impairment) for gad retention? Retention of toxins is retention of toxins, regardless of why it is retained.

Actually, the answer is more than likely Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is correct. Blaming potentially mass toxicity on a small group of renal impaired individuals translates to less liability and more continued profit. Always, follow the money.

Maureensays:

That’s exactly it, John. Also, when you know someone who has retained gadolinium, and is in a world of hurt, perhaps you are less likely to be dismissive? I think Dr Brent Wagner is onto something and while Richard Semelka’s “Gadolinium Deposition Disease” label might be premature, it’s not as if oodles of research is being conducted. Someone at Berkeley developed a pill to remove gadolinium and it’s ready for human trials, but they don’t have the funding yet. Sent them a meager sum, in honor of said loved one who still has high levels of gadolinium in his body, two months after his last MRI ( according to a 24 hour urine test conducted at the Mayo Clinic, where a nephrologist advised him to look into Dr Semelka’s work)

If retained gadolinium causes NSF for those with unhealthy kidneys, and retained gadolinium causes fibrosis in human cells exposed to gadolinium

In case anybody else’s word-salad detector went off, see here. The short story is that human foreskin fibroblasts express fibronectin when left in a dish with 0.2 mM gadodiamide for 24 hours.

0.2 mm? That’s a really high concentration. Ridiculously high. Way higher than anyone undergoing an MEI could expect to be exposed to.

Might as well quote the conclusion, as well:

Because there is controversy about the use of one chelate over another, yet no strong (particularly experimental) data to support this recommendation, the in vitro and in vivo effects of both low- and high-$K_{\textnormal{therm}}\,$ MRI contrast agents were compared in our study. Neither agent demonstrated impressive proproliferatory effects on fibroblasts (particularly within the therapeutic ranges), whereas gadoteridol did have dose-dependent toxicity, as demonstrated by the MTT incorporation assay. Gadodiamide appears to have more propensity to stimulate both apoptosis and necrosis in these cells.

Moving on,

Someone at Berkeley developed a pill to remove gadolinium and it’s ready for human trials, but they don’t have the funding yet.

This appears to derive from here. The fundraiser is “for a full-time researcher working in Rebecca [Abergel]’s lab and dedicated to understanding and treating gadolinium toxicity.” I’m not finding any claims of a magic gadolinium chelator other than at mricontrastsafety-dot-com.

Maureensays:

From the donation letter I received from the Berkeley Lab Foundation:” As you are probably aware, Dr. Abergel is developing a safe drug to remove gadolinium from the bloodstream. This will be an enormous benefit to the growing number of patients who suffer from adverse effects from retained gadolinium, which is injected into millions of people every year as part of the standard MRI procedure.”

Maureensays:

“This is from the Berkeley Lab Foundation Web Site: “Rebecca Abergel. a Berkeley Lab researcher, has been working on the development of a safe drug to remove radioactive contaminants from the body.  When she learned about a large group of patients who have become ill from retaining another toxic metal, gadolinium, she sprang into action.  Knowing that the actinides (radioactive metals such as plutonium or americium) share certain properties with the lanthanides (rare earth metals such as gadolinium), she realized that the same drug could be used to remove both types of metals safely from patients’ bodies.

Since the 1980s, gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) have been used for contrast-enhanced MRIs as a way to increase image clarity.  Approximately ten million contrast MRIs per year are performed in the U.S. alone; many more are performed worldwide. Although gadolinium is highly toxic as a free metal, GBCA complexes were thought to be safe to inject into patients with normal renal function.  Until recently, GBCAs were believed to exit the body within 72 hours.  Recent scientific evidence of gadolinium deposition in the brain, bone, and tissues of patients with normal kidney function has shown this to be false.  A growing number of patients now suffer the chronic toxic effects of retained gadolinium.  There is no cure, and the effects can be painful, debilitating, and progressive.  We are raising \$120,000 for a full-time researcher working in Rebecca’s lab and dedicated to understanding and treating gadolinium toxicity. ”

http://www.berkeleylabfoundation.org/support-berkeley-lab/

This is from the Berkeley Lab Foundation Web Site

Yah. You may have noticed that I already quoted from that page, so there was no need to copy and paste the whole blurb.

<

blockquote>[“]When she learned about a large group of patients who have become ill from retaining another toxic metal, gadolinium, she sprang into action.[“]

<

blockquote>

Cue Wagner: “Gadolinium-associated systemic fibrosis is a rare condition. From 1997 to 2009, the number of cases increased from 15 to 304 (18, 21).”

You appear to be simply projecting what you want to believe onto the sources you are invoking, rather than actually reading what they say.

Maureensays:

You appeared to assert that there was no pill to remove gadolinium in the works and then posted a link to an outside source. I have been in contact with one of the researchers at Berkely, who told me they don’t have the funding as of yet. Made a donatio in hopes that maybe in the future this won’t be an issue.

I also have a loved one who just visited the Mayo Clinic for yet another 24 hour urine test, and discovered that he still has high levels of gadolinium in his urine months after his last MRI.. The nephrologist at the Mayo Clinic indicated that there simply hasn’t been enough research regarding retention of gadolinium in those with normal renal function and consulted one of her colleagues in radiology who echoed her sentiment, but added that they do know that gadolinium deposits in the brain, tissue, organs and in the bones. The nephrologist at the Mayo Clinic also pointed to Dr Semelka’s work, but I had already been in touch with him at that point. There does not appear to be a consensus among doctors and researchers, but I’m much more interested in those who either believe it is worth further investigation or are sure it’s a problem and are working to fix it. Thats 100 percent true.

You appeared to assert that there was no pill to remove gadolinium in the works

There isn’t. Their main work, chelating radionuclides, is still awaiting a Phase I trial.

<

blockquote>and then posted a link to an outside source.

<

blockquote>

And?

I have been in contact with one of the researchers at Berkely, who told me they don’t have the funding as of yet.

You mean the \$120,000? That’s going to buy maybe a year of shooting up rodents with Gd and chelating them with DTPA (already approved), 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO) (IND), and 5-LIO(Me-3,2-HOPO. The one advantage you have here is that at least human studies are likely ethically possible, as opposed to, say, with plutonium.

Maureensays:

It’s my understanding that the \$120,000 will go towards a researcher who will not be working on the drug, human trials, etc, but will be studying Gadolinium Toxicity. I am not certain what that will entail. Have read various statements regarding the drug itself, and that it’s already been developed and cleared by the FDA for human trials, but I am going by memory and am not certain if that’s true or not. I didn’t get that jist from the reseacher I corresponded with, though. Once again, going simply by memory, but she seemed to be saying that they needed funding for that, as well. I could search my email for clarification if need be.

It’s my understanding that the \$120,000 will go towards a researcher who will not be working on the drug, human trials, etc, but will be studying Gadolinium Toxicity.

Go back to the fundraising page:

“Knowing that the actinides (radioactive metals such as plutonium or americium) share certain properties with the lanthanides (rare earth metals such as gadolinium), she realized that the same drug could be used to remove both types of metals safely from patients’ bodies.”

I am not certain what that will entail.

I am not a biomedical researcher, or anywhere in the general vicinity of the ballpark. However, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to guess that the first step would be to run the two drugs that they have developed against rodents to see how well they clear Gd. The only other option that occurs to me at the moment is trying to shoehorn it into the siderocalin work, but that’s more Wagner’s bailiwick and not really close to what mricontrastsafety-dot-com is touting.

Have read various statements regarding the drug itself, and that it’s already been developed and cleared by the FDA for human trials, but I am going by memory and am not certain if that’s true or not. I didn’t get that jist from the reseacher I corresponded with, though.

From PMID 27038878 (PDF here):

“Addressing the limitations of Ca-DTPA and Zn-DTPA, an octadentate hydroxypyridinone-based chelator, 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO), has shown efficacy with high potency and low toxicity through parenteral and oral routes of administration, preferred qualities in drug development. Studies have not only considered sex bias by examining efficacy in both male and female mice, but also elucidated the ability of 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO) to, at physiological pH, form stable, excretable complexes with those radiological elements chelated by DTPA along with others, such as isotopes of uranium, neptunium, and europium [13–15]. Its efficacy and safety have been proven in multiple animal models in order to meet criteria in the FDA’s Animal Efficacy Rule and gain approval [16–18] since efficacy trials in human beings cannot be ethically conducted [19–21]. A promising candidate for treating internal radionuclide contamination, 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO) received an investigational new drug (IND) designation from the FDA in August 2014 and is awaiting phase I clinical trials.”

Phase I trials are on small groups of people to determine tolerability and safety, not whether the stuff actually works in humans. I imagine that the process would have to start all over again for it to gain FDA approval for just NSF prophylaxis or something, and then they’d have to go the rest of the way.

Speaking of DTPA, though, I note that Semelka’s NCT02947022 is listed at clinicaltrials-dot-gov as having suspended patient recruitment. I haven’t looked further into that.

^ It is, however, the lone trial that comes up for “Gadolinium Deposition Disease.”

Maureensays:

Believe Dr Semelka’s study began in October 2016 and will conclude in December, 2017. If I’m remembering this correctly, results are expected to be published in May.

Maureensays:

Looked it up. Dr Semelka’s study is concluding shortly. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02947022

Also looked up my correspondence with the researcher at Berkeley regarding the drug they’re developing which, as their Website states “could be used to remove both types of metals [radioactive contaminants and gadolinium]safely from patients’ bodies.” This was her reply: “At this time, we do not have funding or a medical partner for clinical trials”.

“Suspended” in the status line means that the study “halted prematurely but potentially will resume.”

^^ An older note on the gadolinium multidistrict litigation, which I’ve seen mentioned while rooting around in this swamp,* is here. Semelka was one of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses. This may or may not be ironic, given that he also advocates for <a href=http://www.ajronline.org/doi/10.2214/AJR.09.3987″>blinding of radiologists in legal cases.

[*] Mixed metaphor? There must be roots in swamps.

Maureensays:

As for my “word salad”? Im referring to current research, not studies previously conducted (Your link was from 2014) Once again, this is from the Wall Street Journal regarding ongoing research: “Brent Wagner, a staff physician at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio and a nephrologist, says his laboratory studies have found that human cells exposed to gadolinium show signs of fibrosis, or scarring. He says the symptoms that patients with healthy kidneys have complained about are similar to the ones exhibited by kidney patients who develop nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) from gadolinium exposure, a rare disease that causes severe pain and scarring all over the body and in the internal organs. Dr. Wagner is now using animal models to identify the mechanism that results in patient symptoms.”

It was, although the (very short) WSJ piece is the root of the problem. “Human cells exposed to gadolinium show signs of fibrosis, or scarring” doesn’t mean anything.

Im referring to current research, not studies previously conducted (Your link was from 2014)

You’re regurgitating second- and third-hand material, which is why I had to go dig all the stuff up in the first place. As I recall, there was only one more recent paper by Wagner that was on point, and it was a review that in relevant part just pointed back to the foreskins-and-rats paper.

Note the use of tense in his faculty bio. BTW, the review is here.

Now we know that those with renal insufficiency and an exposure to gadolinium-based contrast are exclusively at risk.

Aside from that, there’s just PMID 25742194 cited.

Ross Milessays:

@Denice – It is called Perceived Value. The cosmetics industry for premium products, as a rule, spends more on packaging than the product within. In a previous incarnation, way back when, in a textbook case study, Oil of Olay became successful after several price increases where the product cost got down to around 2% on selling. The second reason is the labs perfected the transformation from a creme to a nice flowing scented oil with skin heat. AH the “Grease and Stink” business. Pricing is an art form, where one takes what the market will bear, including “mark it up, to mark it down”.

So called ethical pharmaceutical companies, for prescription medications play a very different game because of many sets of rules on the world stage. Want to lower drug prices in the USA by about 20%? Stop direct to consumer advertising where the USA is the only large country that does so. The Provinces here in Canada, (as a generality) pay the drug companies, the average price, from a basket of five countries from their lowest price which does not include the USA.

Denice Waltersays:

@ Ross Miles:

I know about those studies .
There are also actual social psych/ social cognition studies about how people justify paying more for actual products by thinking them superior and which factors influence them. One aspect is CHOICE ( which could explain some woo) in a study involving
( fake) lottery tickets- when people choose their own ticket, they’ll not part with it unless paid a higher amount in contrast to those GIVEN a ticket.

Johnsays:

The American Journal of Neuroradiology thought the survey of the 17 was important and significant enough to “recommend future investigations to evaluate a possible relation between gadolinium retention and clinical symptoms in subjects with normal renal function”.

Based on your extensive research, Orac, how much disassociated gad retention in the brain, bones and skin do you consider toxic to the body because as far as anyone can tell, no studies have been performed to answer that question. According to the AJNR:

The retention of gadolinium is important clinically. Gadolinium is not a naturally occurring biologic constituent, and once within the tissues of animals, it persists for long periods. Additionally, heavy metals are known to be toxic.

The risks associated with the administration of weaker chelate GBCAs to patients with severely impaired kidney function are well-documented, and NSF is the result. As described in this review, the published literature, most of which is recent, indicates that some gadolinium from each dose given may remain in the body of all patients regardless of their renal function. The long-term and cumulative effects of retained gadolinium are, at present, unknown in patients with normal renal function.”

http://www.ajnr.org/content/ajnr/early/2015/12/10/ajnr.A4615.full.pdf

Putting unknown effects of a retained toxic metal in millions of people’s bodies, with no method of 100% retrieval, is safe, sane and do no harm medicine? Since it is your professional opinion those harmed by gadolinium are using “quackery” in an attempt to remove the toxins, what is your recommendation to remove toxic gadolinium from the body, because to date, no one else has a surefire answer; not the government tasked with protecting the public, the doctors injecting the toxins into unknowing victims, nor the drug companies profiting from the use of these toxins.

“Obviously, the methods they were using must not have been covered by the presumably very good health insurance that Norris and his wife almost certainly must have.”

What is even more obvious and troubling for the insurance companies, after millions upon millions of MRI with contrasts being performed, would be the acceptance of gad retention toxicity as a disease and the insurance industry being forced to pay for its treatment and cleaning up after the FDA. Capitalism is based on privatizing profits and socializing losses, not the other way around.

According to the AJNR

For those who don’t want to be thrown a PDF, the main page for the paper is here.

Protip: “No studies have been performed to answer that question” doesn’t really mix well when invoking a review paper. Shall we cherry-pick text following that which you chose? Let’s:

Preclinical safety studies performed on animals failed to reveal any neurologic effects of chelated gadolinium when given intravenously.[60] There is, however, proof of gadolinium toxicity in the brain when administered by the intraventricular route in rats[65] and also by the intravenous route after blood-brain barrier disruption.[66]

It is conceivable that patients may be adversely affected by retained gadolinium, especially in the brain. Despite being a difficult-to-prove cause-effect relationship, an MR imaging gadolinium-toxicity support group has been created. This group reported symptoms that they considered consistent with what is known about the toxic effects of gadolinium. In a recent survey performed in 17 patients, an association between chronic effects and GBCA exposure was suggested.[67] Although no specific conclusions can be drawn from the survey, the results indicated that the symptoms appeared within 1 month after the last contrast-enhanced MR imaging and chronic pain was present in all 17 subjects (Table 2).

Repeat after me:

The American Journal of Neuroradiology thought the survey of the 17 was important and significant enough to “recommend future investigations to evaluate a possible relation between gadolinium retention and clinical symptoms in subjects with normal renal function”.

No, that’s the authors. In any event, you may be failing to grasp the payload of these quoted words, which, in full, read as follows:

We recommend future investigations to evaluate a possible relation between gadolinium retention and clinical symptoms in subjects with normal renal function.

See? Pronouns, how do they work? The brief conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader.

The Norris’s complaint is here (PDF), if anyone’s interested. I haven’t gone through it yet.

^ “Norrises’s,” I suppose. More coffee.

“Now, almost five-years post-gadolinium poisoning, [Gena] continues to require regular stem-cell therapies and other treatments to heal her central nervous system.”

^ The contrast agents were ProHance (macrocyclic, incorrectly identified as linear in ¶ 75)* and MultiHance (intermediate stability). The complaint, however, natters on about Magnevist and Omniscan.

The failure-to-warn part is over the top:

The foregoing acts, conduct and omissions of Defendants were vile, base, willful, malicious, wanton, oppressive and fraudulent, and were done with a conscious disregard for the health, safety and rights of Plaintiff and other users of Defendants’ products, and for the primary purpose of increasing Defendants’ profits. As such, Plaintiff is entitled to exemplary damages.

The “services of his wife” bit in the loss of consortium claim is a bit awkward, as well.

“Desecrated tissue” (¶ 80)? You’d think the Norrises could afford lawyers who use proofreaders.

Smut Clydesays:

Chuck Norris is a vocal advocate — “loud-mouthed”, some would say — of tort reform, to eliminate the scourge of Frivolous Law-suits that hold back corporations.

That last graf in my previous comment was the footnote, by the way. I forgot that line-starting asterisks are perplexingly getting eaten by this WP setup.

Smut Clydesays:

You’d think the Norrises could afford lawyers who use proofreaders.

If the goal is not to prevail in court, but to convince the other side to settle out-of-court for a much smaller amount, perhaps the lawyerly illiteracy and general tone of cheapness is there to signal to the lawsuit’s recipients that “You’ll run out of money for legal advice before we do”.

I strongly suspect that the defendants have far more money at their disposal. Aside from Does 1–20, of course.

Dangerous Baconsays:

Maureen: “Once again, this is from the Wall Street Journal regarding ongoing research: “Brent Wagner, a staff physician at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio and a nephrologist, says his laboratory studies have found that human cells exposed to gadolinium show signs of fibrosis, or scarring.”

I checked Wagner’s papers on PubMed. I can’t find any that claim that “human cells” show signs of scarring (histologically speaking, it’s hard to imagine how individual cells can undergo fibrosis. Perhaps the WSJ was confused about the difference between cells and tissues (one Wagner paper referred to a rodent study in which bone marrow cells in gadolinium-exposed critters supposedly migrated elsewhere and differentiated into fibroblasts, which he believed “proved” the mechanism of toxicity in adults, which seems a stretch).

In any event, I haven’t seen any Wagner-associated publication in which he declares there’s solid evidence for gadolinium contrast agents causing the myriad symptoms which patients like Ms. Norris have reported.

nahantsays:

What a piece of shit your blog is.. Never sticking to the truth.. I wonder who is filling your bank accounts, by your posts it sure looks like big pharma.. bye my last comment on such drivel..

One notes that, unlike other critics, you haven’t even tried to point out a single error of fact or science in my post. So exactly why should I take you seriously? 🤔

Rich Blysays:

One item that hasn’t been commented on is the fact that \$120,000 does not buy much of a researcher. When you add in overhead costs, fringes costs etc, etc. it doesn’t leave much leave much money to pay the person let alone the costs of the research.

Johnsays:

To those who would deny others cause of illness,

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”– Mark Twain

Wut?

Are you suggesting, John, that our host and associated minions are somehow bad people because we don’t allow people, who are indeed afflicted, to make up a cause for that affliction that is at odds with the current scientific evidence? Are you suggesting that we should allow someone to spread crappy science and evidence unchallenged? Do you think challenging unsupported statements is a sign of moral shortcomings?