‘Miracle drug’ called junk science

Powerful castration drug pushed for autistic children, but medical experts denounce unproven claims

Chicago Tribune

Desperate to help their autistic children, hundreds of parents nationwide are turning to an unproven and potentially damaging treatment: multiple high doses of a drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders.

The therapy is based on a theory, unsupported by mainstream medicine, that autism is caused by a harmful link between mercury and testosterone. Children with autism have too much of the hormone, according to the theory, and a drug called Lupron can fix that.

“Lupron is the miracle drug,” Dr. Mark Geier of Maryland said after meeting with an autistic patient in suburban Chicago.

Geier and his son developed the “Lupron protocol” for autism and are marketing it across the country, opening clinics in states from Washington to New Jersey. In the Chicago area, the treatment is available through Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, a family practitioner in Rolling Meadows.

But experts say the idea that Lupron can work miracles for children with autism is not grounded in scientific evidence.

Four of the world’s top pediatric endocrinologists told the Tribune that the Lupron protocol is baseless, supported only by junk science. More than two dozen prominent endocrinologists dismissed the treatment earlier this year in a paper published online by the journal Pediatrics.

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, said it is irresponsible to treat autistic children with Lupron.

“The idea of using it with vulnerable children with autism, who do not have a life-threatening disease and pose no danger to anyone, without a careful trial to determine the unwanted side effects or indeed any benefits, fills me with horror,” he said.

Experts in childhood hormones warn that Lupron can disrupt normal development, interfering with natural puberty and potentially putting children’s heart and bones at risk. The treatment also means subjecting children to daily injections, including painful shots deep into muscle every other week.

This weekend, Eisenstein, Geier and his son, David, are scheduled to speak at the Autism One conference at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont. The five-day conference, featuring a keynote speech by actress-turned-activist Jenny McCarthy, steps in where modern medicine has yet to succeed, offering answers for what causes autism and treatments with allegedly dramatic results.

All three men plan to talk about the link they see between autism and vaccines; the Geiers will also discuss hormones and autism.

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A vocal minority of people believe vaccines are to blame for autism, though numerous studies have failed to support any of those theories. One of the most persistent puts the blame on thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once found in some childhood vaccines but now included only in some flu shots or in trace amounts.

The Lupron protocol adds a new twist to the thimerosal theory. According to the Geiers, who filed for at least one patent on their therapy, many autistic children have not only toxic mercury in their system, but also high testosterone that causes early, or “precocious,” puberty.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Lupron to treat precocious puberty, an extremely rare disorder that involves finding signs of puberty in very young girls and boys.

Lupron is also used to treat prostate cancer in men, to treat endometriosis in women, and to chemically castrate sex offenders.

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Comment from Leslie

1. High testosterone levels have been found in the girls severely injured by Gardasil.  According to studies, testosterone absorbs heavy metals -and estrogen repels the hormone.  This is why more boys are afflicted by Autism – and why Gardasil has not been marketed to boys.  Initial trials  showed higher risk of reactions in in boys than girls.

2. Research needs to be conducted on the use of natural progesterone to offset the testosterone hormone imbalance.  Natural progesterone has been used effectively to decrease aggressive behaviors in girls with estrogen dominance.  Now I am wondering if the girls in the study also had higher than normal levels of testosterone.  Guess I have more research to do.

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.