Science Mom: Everyday Items Anti-Vaxxers Should Fear Just As Much As Vaccines

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science momIf there’s one thing anti-vaxxers love more than telling us how vaccines will give our kids autism, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s posting long lists of the terrifying ingredients that vaccines contain. But if these ingredients are so scary, why stop at vaccines? Under the very charitable assumption that the outcry against these chemicals is based on something other than anti-science woo, I’ve decided to reach out a helping hand to our anti-vax friends, by assembling a list of things to avoid at the grocery store based on the components they share with those scary, scary vaccines.

1. Formaldehyde

It’s true: everyone’s favorite biological preservative, formaldehyde, is found in trace amounts in some vaccines. As well as turning dead frogs into rubbery, dissectable dolls, it turns out that formaldehyde is great at murdering the shit out of viruses … and murdered viruses are a lot safer to inject into an eighteen-month-old than the live kind. Your body’s immune system recognizes the shapes of the microbes trying to infect you, and a virus corpse is pretty much as good as the real deal, with the bonus that it can’t make you sick. Most of the formaldehyde gets removed in the vaccine preparation process, but the odd molecule or two get left behind.

Things to avoid: If an infinitesimal quantity of formaldehyde worries you, you should also skip the following foods that contain higher-than-average amounts of the stuff: grapes, mushrooms, potatoes, beets, cauliflower, bananas. Also, since your own body can produce formaldehyde as a byproduct after eating certain foods, you may want to try to transcend your mortal body and become an entity of pure spirit. Good luck!

2. Mercury

Mercury, in the form of thimerosal, has been removed from most vaccines, although you can still find it in multi-dose flu vials. It serves an anti-contamination purpose, because sticking yourself with a flu vaccine enriched with seventeen strains of grody bacteria is, according to numerous leading scientists, “hella dumb”. The flu vaccine you get at your doctors office is a single-serving variety, and thus mercury-free, so if anyone tries to tell you to skip it (let alone MMR, Tdap, or anything else) because it’ll turn you into the Mad Hatter, they are a liar and/or a dupe.

The good news is that the flavor of mercury used in vaccines is ethyl mercury – different from the “bad” mercury in a similar way to how the kind of alcohol in wine and 99 Bananas is different from wood alcohol. This kind of mercury doesn’t stick around in your tissues forever like methyl mercury does, and it’s hard for mercury that’s been flushed down the toilet to cause long-lasting health effects.

Things to avoid: Fish and shellfish, of course, especially larger varieties of sea-critters, since mercury accumulates as it works its way up the food chain out there in all-natural nature. With a shaky grasp of chemistry, it’s probably also best to skip the beer, wine, and liquor aisles, since you apparently can’t tell the difference between a bottle of Bailey’s and bootleg bathtub gin that’ll turn you blind with one good whiff of the fumes.

3. Chicken embryo fibroblasts

Influenza and some other, less common vaccines are literally produced inside chicken eggs. “Chicken embryo fibroblasts” is scientific fancy-talk for “chicken fetuses”, which are of course the other leading product generated inside of chicken eggs. If you have an egg allergy it’s best to skip a flu vaccine, but for the rest of us, the only actual harm you may suffer from this additive is a slight shiver down your spine at the thought of residual chicken gunk being injected into your body.

Things to avoid: Farm-fresh eggs, which in my experience often contain an entire chicken fetus and not just a few odd cells in the mix. Also, if chicken fetuses bother you so much, I assume it only gets worse when they’re fully grown – no visits to the rotisserie either, please.

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