Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Toxin Gambit Part 2: Polysorbate 80 and a Maths Fail

Previously we posted The Toxin Gambit 1: Formaldehyde which was an in-depth examination of what formaldehyde is, actual toxic doses and the amount in vaccines.  We feel these examinations are important for parents who have been frightened into believing that vaccine excipients are harmful when they are, in fact not, particularly in the amounts contained within vaccines.  A blogger who goes by the name of Amanda is one such person attempting to either justify her own fears of polysorbate-80 and/or trying to frighten others.  In either case she is demonstrably wrong with her interpretation of information and is a case study in why you should pay attention in maths classes.

I recently saw a woman on facebook complaining about teh ebil sodium chloride in vaccines, claiming "Sodium chloride: Raises blood pressure and inhibits muscle contraction and growth", channelling Natural News (the Nazi reference was missing from her post though). Did you know that vaccines contain up to 9mg/ml sodium chloride? Yes, that would be .9%, also known as "physiological salt solution" or "normal saline" - the stuff you can get intravenously in half litre amounts (BTDT) and that doesn't even sting when you clean wounds with it. Scientific illiteracy is rife among the anti-vaccine minded and I was just pointed to another example - this time, polysorbate 80 is the evil vaccine ingredient - the Blog "Blinded by the Light" comes up with a malware warning, so be careful when you click the link, I will copy and paste the best bits here, so you don't have to go (here is a pdf as downloaded Saturday morning). Amanda, the blog author, has a "holistic and spiritual paradigm" - maths and sciences are lacking from her approach though, so I am not sure she can claim the "holistic". She has several concerns about the use of Polysorbate 80 in vaccines:
According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for PolySorbate 80 there is no information available regarding carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or developmental toxicity effects. [1]
There is information on toxicity though - the LD50 (dose at which half of the experimental animals die) is 34500 µl (microliter) per kilogram body weight - this is the equivalent of 24 teaspoons (or 36.6 grams, see below) full of pure Polysorbate 80 for a 3.5 kilogram newborn baby. A huge amount. Vaccines contain a maximum of 100µg per dose (that is threehundredandsixtyfivethousandsevenhundred [365'700] times less than the LD50 for a newborn, we ingest 1000x that (100mg) per day, since Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in many foods (for example ice cream, yumm). 

Amanda continues (her bolds and italics and underlines):
Reproductive Issues

I’m as apprehensive as the next guy when it comes to animal studies and results given. If you give a rat (or any animal for that matter) large doses of any chemical I’m sure cancer and health issues will ensue. However, this study is interesting.

A research group in 1993 studied the effects on the reproductive organs of rats with very small doses of polysorbate 80 which resulted in infertility. Specifically, they found that Polysorbate 80 accelerated the maturation of the female rats, damaged the vagina and womb lining, caused significant hormonal changes, severe ovary deformities and ultimately rendered the young female rats infertile. [3]
To give you an idea by what I mean by very small. The dose given to the rats was 0.1 mcg. Compare this to the three-stage injection of the HPV vaccine Gardasil that would contain 50 mcg each injection. [3] [4]

If we assume the baby rats weighed 6 ounces (which  baby rats do normally weigh between 5-6 ounces), to be equivalent, the prepubescent teenage girl would have to weigh approximately 300 lbs.
Wow! That is horrible! Horribly wrong that is. Let me take you through this. We'll start with some basic measurements.

1 ml (milliliter = 1/1000th of a liter) of water weighs 1 g (gram)
1 ml = 1000 µl/mcl (microliter = 1/1'000'000th of a liter)

1 ml of Polysorbate 80 weighs 1.06-1.09 g, so it is a bit denser/heavier than water - I will calculate with 1.06 from here on.

An ounce is 28.35 g - 6 ounces are 170 g, about the weight of a full baby bottle.

300 lbs are about 137 kilograms (that is one big preteen).

Now let's see what the paper actually states:

So, neonatal female rats were injected with 0.1 ml of 1% or 5% or 10% Tween 80 (that is the same thing as Polysorbate 80, just a trade name) on 4 consecutive days. They were injected IP into the peritoneal cavity, which is in direct contact with the uterus. Now Amanda claims the amount given to the rat pups was 0.1mcg (=microgram) and calculates from there. That is wrong.

Remember, 1 ml weighs 1g (1 ml of Polysorbate 80 weighs 1.06 g, so I am going to go with that in the per rat calculations). Pups were applied 0.1ml = 0.1 gram. 0.1 gram is 100 milligram or 100'000 microgram. 1% of that is 1000 microgram (but since it was 1% of Polysorbate 80, 1060 microgram in 100 microliter). Pups were injected 4x with 1%, 5% or 10%, so they received:

1%: 4x1060 microgramm = 4240 microgramm (roughly forty two thousand times more than Amanda claims) 
5%: 4x5300 microgram = 21200 microgram
10%: 4x10600 microgramm = 42400 microgramm (or 42 mg)

What does a newborn rat weigh? Amanda sounds very authoritative when she states "5 to 6 ounces", but that is about as wrong as the rest – newborn rats pups up to the age of about 5 days are called "pinkies". This is why: they are the size and shape of a pinky and weigh about 8 g (less than a third of an ounce). When they are 7 days old, they are "fuzzies" – and weigh about 15 g (half an ounce). 

6 ounce baby bottle    -   3 day old rat pups    -     7 day old rat pups:

Notice how delicate their skin is and remember that the injection these pups have received did not go into the muscle (IM) or under the skin (ID) as vaccine, but IP, into the tummy essentially right next to the uterus.

We go on with an average weight of 12 gram per pup. Your 1% group will have gotten 353'333 microgram (or 353 mg) per kilogram bodyweight (1000/12 x 4240 µg). In order to apply the equivalent amount to a 50 kilo preteen (to stay with the Gardasil example), you would have to apply 17'667'000 microgram, or nearly 18 grams of pure Polysorbate 80 (that is 3.5 heaped tea spoons full - good luck getting that into three 0.5ml syringes).

Your three shots of Gardasil contain 150 microgram of polysorbate 80. In order to expose your preteen to the same amount of Polysorbate 80 that those pups (in the 1% group) got, she should weigh about 0.42 g or about the 12th of a teaspoon full (or 326'000 times less than Amanda claimed).

The wild speculation continues under the heading "Immunocontraceptive". Amanda cites a patent application for a vaccine intended to sterilise animals by vaccinating them with zona pellucida glycoprotein. The inventors explicitly propose to use Polysorbate 80 as an emulsifier, not an active ingredient and at the concentrations in the patent (0.2% in 0.5ml injected intramuscular) it is not going to do anything with the fertility of the recipient without the active ingredient.

Amanda's next worry is disruption of the blood brain barrier - according to her reference 10, not found in the citation list, already observed "at intrevenous systemic doses as low as 3 mg". That may or may not be true (since she doesn't reference the paper she refers to, it could be that those 3 mg were applied to 20 g mice), however, 3 mg are 3000 µg, vaccines contain between 25 and 100 µg of Polysorbate and are not given systemically (despite the "directly into the blood stream" canard that the anti-vaccine minded like to use).

Edited on 24 Sept 2012 to add: Amanda has very kindly come up with reference 10, which in turn cites this 1985 paper for the actual experiment. 25-35g mice (young adult females) were intravenously injected with 3 milligram per kilogram of polysorbate 80 together with methotrexate. If you upscale this to your 50 kilo preteen (3mg/kg), she'll need 150 mg (150'000 microgram) IV to be able to expect an effect on the blood brain barrier. However, vaccines contain 1500 to 6000 times less polysorbate 80 than that and are given into the muscle and not into the blood stream. -end edit-

It is sad that Amanda went out, equipped with very little understanding of maths, immunology, chemistry, or animal experiments, seemingly with the intention to be scared (and to scare)? 


  1. Poor Amanda. Oh well innumeracy goes hand-in-hand with scientific illiteracy after all. Did you post this on her blog and ask her if she would care to revise in light of your maths?

  2. I posted it on Babycenter, where she had pointed me to her blog. I don't want to comment on a blog that gives me a malware warning (although that may just be the one link).

  3. I commented on her blog but apparently she doesn't appreciate her scientific and numeric illiteracy pointed out. Oh well, just another reason why laypeople should ask questions instead of thinking they can do the heavy lifting themselves.

    1. You should recommend to her ice cream. Which is loaded with polysorbate 80 to emulsify it.
      By HER insane claims, my wife of over 30 years and adult daughters reproductive tracts would've dried up and fallen out ages ago.
      Which doesn't reflect my wife's 16 pregnancies and two live births (REALLY long story on that, ectopic pregnancy (her ill informed sister told my wife that ectopic pregnancies are impossible and was LOUDLY corrected, but at least the woman accepts vaccination as a good thing) and scarring preventing successful pregnancies due to a post-operative infection and some other medical misadventures). According to Amanda, that is utterly impossible!
      Along with the vast majority of the industrialized world that consumes ice cream!
      And nearly every other food product containing polysorbate 80.

      As for the critter on Facebook rejecting sodium chloride, I'd have suggested she avoid ALL foods with sodium or chlorine in them, ESPECIALLY ANY form of salt. IF she became seriously ill, at the most advanced stage, the salt should be rapidly replaced.

      For those unacquainted with what I suggested, rapid replacement of sodium chloride in patients with extremely low sodium chloride (Hyponatremia) causes massive brain damage. As many would do the dead thing. Some would suffer a worse fate (yes, there are MANY things worse than death), locked in syndrome. They're visually comatose, but are conscious.
      I'd also inform the dweeb about those facts, as I don't advocate murder, save in saving oneself from harm at the hands of a criminal and there is no reasonable option available to avoid such an act.
      But, not above suggesting that an ignorant idiot should reject my suggestion for good health and accept the deleterious course for themselves, as they are literally doing their level best to kill others through infectious disease.
      Or more simply, I'm not very nice, when anti-vaxxers are concerned. I've personally witnessed polio epidemics in small villages. I've witnessed many other preventable communicable diseases ravage a village's children and elderly.
      Every dead child I saw was my own child in my mind. Every dead elder, my father.
      I've trained many in military medicine over the decades, the first and hardest lesson is, it's not YOUR problem.
      But, remove that last bit, one is no longer human, as one has erased empathy.
      I don't let the experiences destroy me, but I HATE seeing or hearing of preventable death by communicable disease that has a vaccination that can either eliminate it or reduce it to microscopic numbers.
      It's one of the two things in the world that I actually hate.
      1: war.
      2: preventable deaths.

    2. I apologize for the massive tome above. Unfortunately, I suffered a vaccination accident as a child.
      My family physician accidentally vaccinated me with a phonograph needle. ;)

  4. My friends baby was damaged after a vaccination, these chemicals are not safe for all people, I don't understand why this isn't acknowledged on your blog.

  5. Acknowledged how? There are well-known contra-indications for vaccination - which have been spelled out again & again.

  6. Here are Thompson’s own explosive words:

    “…the [CDC] co-authors scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the [MMR vaccine] study. The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we had thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can.” (William Thompson, CDC researcher)

    1. Well, since all of the study information has been available for over a decade - the statement above doesn't address what was discard (duplicates, extraneous information, etc), it's a red herring.

  7. Pubmed has published this conclusion: Polysorbate 80 is a ubiquitously used solubilizing agent that can cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions

    1. You should post the link if you care to make a point. If it's the one I know of, it's from ten years ago and included a single patient.


    1. That is funny. You seemed to have only read the URL of the second link, and not the actual article. (hint: the title has a question mark on the end)


    1. First you tell us why measles incidence dropped 90% in the USA between 1960 and 1970. Just do not mention deaths (mortality is not the same as morbidity), do not mention any other disease, do not mention any other decade (I did the math, no other dropped 90%), and do not mention any other country (England, Wales and New Zealand are not American states):
      Year.... Rate per 100000 of measles
      1912 . . . 310.0
      1920 . . . 480.5
      1925 . . . 194.3
      1930 . . . 340.8
      1935 . . . 584.6
      1940 . . . 220.7
      1945 . . . 110.2
      1950 . . . 210.1
      1955 . . . 337.9
      1960 . . . 245.4
      1965 . . . 135.1
      1970 . . . . 23.2
      1975 . . . . 11.3
      1980 . . . . . 5.9
      1985 . . . . . 1.2
      1990 . . . . .11.2
      1991 . . . . . .3.8
      1992 . . . . . .0.9
      1993 . . . . . .0.1
      1994 . . . . . .0.4
      1995 . . . . . .0.1
      1996 . . . . . .0.2
      1997 . . . . . . 0.1

      After you do that to our satifisfaction, then you have to explain why we would care what the world's worse person says.

  10. I went into a two week coma after a vaccination at the age of 17. Before then I was never sick. At 19, I started showing signs of Lupus and contracted a serious case of meningitis. Today, at age 35, I have three autoimmune disorders. I asked for the flu shot and my doctor said "I don't think so, not a good idea for you".

    My friend who's a nurse, (my age) has never gotten a vaccination a day in her life and is one of the healthiest women I know.

    Point is...

    1. Anonymous:
      I am sorry to hear about your health issues. It sounds overwhelming. Know that the causes of Lupus and memingitis are not well-understood, but that there is no good evidence that either is associated with vaccination.
      I don't know why your doctor recommended against a flu shot, but it might not be due to a risk inherent in vaccines, but rather to your challenging medical condition.
      As for your friend, there are many people who have had vaccines who are perfectly healthy (I am one of those, and I also have yearly flu vaccines and am now 65), and there are also people who never have vaccines who get ill. The overall point is this: things that are likely to cause significant health problems are usually identified pretty quickly (e.g., smoking and lung cancer, thalidomide-associated birth defects). Even relatively rare associations don't usually take more than a few years to document (e.g., fatal heart arrhythmias associated with the use of the antifungal terfenidine). Not every medical condition has a known, or even preventable cause. Again, you have my sympathy for your medical conditions, and the, I hope, reassuring scientifically-informed opinion that they are not likely due to your decision to have been vaccinated previously. Good luck to you.

  11. What is you point Anonymous? You wrote an unconfirmed account, that's it.

  12. I've seen a vitamin K shot package insert that contained 10 mg of polysorbate 80. Reading this post makes me realize I had greatly underestimated the weight of baby rats when figuring out the equivalent dose given newborns.