The race to succeed Gerry Hyland (D) as Fairfax County Supervisor from the Mt. Vernon magisterial district is off and running, and there are four Democrats in the field. I don’t support anyone in this race as of yet (and may never), but I’ve started looking into the candidates, one of whom is Fairfax County School Board member Dan Storck. According to Storck’s website, he is “Co-Founder and Managing Member, National Integrated Health Associates.” What is National Integrated Health Associates, you ask? I had never heard of it before (and barely knew a thing about its “co-founder and managing member,” Dan Storck), so I checked its website. Here’s what I found.
*The company claims to be “leaders in holistic integrative medicine and biological dentistry.” Sounds innocuous enough, but start poking around the website, and you quickly get a different impression.
*In fact, these folks are vociferous “anti-vaxxers,” who among other things tie vaccination to autism. See their page on vaccinations for more on this dangerous pseudo-science. Note that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, “There is no link between vaccines and autism.” Period. Also, just for emphasis, “Vaccine ingredients do not cause autism.”
*Despite the overwhelming benefit to humanity of vaccines, and the pandemics that would occur (which would kill untold numbers of people) if we stopped vaccinating people, the National Integrated Health Associates website states, “We support the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) effort and their accumulated expertise and information about vaccinations – the risks and benefits of vaccinations.”
*The “National Vaccine Information Center,” as this article in Slate explains:
…is a group that has an official-sounding name, one that might make you think their message is trustworthy.
Except, not so much. Or at all. Or really just the opposite.
NVIC is an antivax group, plain and simple. Despite hugely overwhelming tsunami-level amounts of evidence showing no link between vaccines and autism, they still think there is one. They go on and on about “vaccine injuries”, yet actual severe side effects from vaccines are very rare, especially when you realize that many millions of vaccines are given every year. The NVIC relies on anecdotes of injuries as evidence, but that’s very dangerous thinking. Stories and personal observations are a good place to start-it’s how you might notice a connection between two things-but it’s not where you end. You must apply rigorous testing to your ideas, so that you can make sure you’re not seeing a connection where none exists.
*Even worse: on the National Integrated Health Associates website, there’s a page of links to all kinds of dangerous, pseudo-scientific nonsense. For instance, a document entitled “Seeking to understand: ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder)” argues absurdly that “only you can be your child’s best doctor.” No, sorry, that’s what all those years of Medical School are for, and why we go to the doctor for diagnosis and treatment, not to Dr. Mom or Dr. Dad.
*The National Integrated Health Associates website further claims, outrageously: “welfare moms and school systems get extra money for medicating their kids – what a system!” Whoa — “welfare moms?” The whole vaccination thing is a way for school systems and “welfare moms” to get money? Is this a bad joke?
*The website also asserts, completely falsely, that “Autism, ADHD, allergies and asthma (4 A’s) and all the other brain disorders are due to neuro-immune dys-function due to too much neurotoxins and the inability of the child to adequately detox or remove these harmful toxins.” It explicitly blames, again completely falsely, the “rapid rise in the vaccination schedules for infants in the last 30 years” for everything from autism to allergies to “leaky gut” to “Lyme, Candida, Herpes virus, Strep, staph, tetanus botulinum, mycotoxins from mold and others.” Alrighty then…
*One of the National Integrated Health Associates’ doctors was disciplined by the Maryland State Board of Physicians for having “incompetently managed 12 significantly ill patients.” This same doctor previously had been “convicted and sentenced to two years’ probation for marketing an unapproved medical device in interstate commerce.” In addition, he “signed a consent agreement with the Maryland board under which he admitted to practicing medicine without a license and would pay a $15,000 fine.” Oh, and New York State suspended this guy’s license for basically being a total quack, practicing something called “orthomolecular medicine,” which his website claimed (falsely) were “effective against ADD & ADHD; aging and longevity; alcohol and drug problems; allergies; Alzheimer’s; arthritis; asthma; immune and autoimmune disorders; cancer; chronic cardiovascular problems and risk factor screening; chronic fatigue; chronic illness; chronic pain; depression; detoxification; diabetes; fibromyalgia; heart and vascular disease; heavy metal toxicity; hormonal problems; intestinal problems; lifestyle health issues; men’s health problems; mental health problems; migraine; neurological disorders; osteoporosis; Parkinson’s disease; sinusitis; smoking; sports nutritional medicine; and women’s health problem.” Craaaazy stuff.
We could go on all day here, but the bottom line is clear: the National Integrated Health Associates, co-founded and managed by Fairfax County School Board member (and current County Board candidate) Dan Storck, is a quack organization which strongly promotes dangerous “anti-vaxxer” pseudoscience. Why “dangerous?” Because, obviously, failure to vaccinate children makes not just the unvaccinated children more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening diseases, but also other people (e.g., older people whose immunity might be compromised for whatever reason) as well. As this article puts it: “An epidemic of vaccination skepticism – largely based on unfounded and discredited anti-vaccine beliefs – has contributed to the growing public health crisis.”
So here’s the thing: Dan Storck is entitled to whatever beliefs he wants to hold, but for a member of the school board in Virginia’s largest county to be peddling this dangerous, anti-vaccination pseudoscience seems to be relevant information that parents and voters might want to be aware of. In talking to people yesterday and today, what I’m hearing is that the public has NOT been aware of Dan Storck’s anti-vaccination views. Perhaps if they had known, they might have reelected him anyway, but the issue apparently never came up, so we’ll never know.
Anyway, now Storck’s seeking a promotion to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and it seems like voters should have this information before they go to the polls this June to select their Democratic nominee (Storck or one of the other Democratic candidates – Tim Sargeant, Jack Dobbyn and Candice Bennett) for this position. At that time, voters can make an informed decision as to who they want representing them on the Fairfax County Board, possibly for many years to come…
P.S. Also note that Storck’s company believes herbs can cure Lyme Disease, that fluoridated water is heinous, that mandatory vaccines may violate your civil liberties, that wearing a bra or putting on deoderant can cause breast cancer, that kids with cancer shouldn’t get chemotherapy, that women shouldn’t get mammograms because they are worthless (they link to this article), that measles is “transmitted by the vaccinated,” and…ok, I think you get the idea.
P.P.S. Before posting any of this, I emailed Dan Storck asking him for comment. Here’s his response, which really didn’t answer my questions about the reams of misinformation and pseudoscience posted on his company’s website and Facebook page. Also, he didn’t respond to a follow-up email asking him specifically about some of the more outlandish assertions his company makes, such as about the supposed connection between breast cancer and bras, the recommendation that kids with cancer not get chemotherapy, etc.
Good afternoon, National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) is a holistic medical center employing and contracting with many licensed medical professionals who treat mind, body and spirit for our patients – not just symptoms. By agreement, we do not and cannot tell our practitioners how to diagnose or treat their clients or patients. We expect, and to our knowledge, our practitioners comply with the District of Columbia’s standards of care for their profession. We believe our practitioners blend the best of western medicine with proven and safe complimentary therapies to help the body heal.
As a holistic health care center, we offer a conservative form of health care that seeks first to do no harm, including the substances that we consume or are exposed to. Different practitioners do take different approaches to client or patient needs. To address one of your core concerns, our MDs are cautious about the type and manner with which they administer vaccines, and they do provide them.
If this is not your philosophy or approach to your own health, I respect your right to choose. I, and thousands of people each year, have personally found the care offered by our practitioners important to their and their family’s health. While some may want to legislate what a person may or may not choose to do with his/her own body, I deeply believe that this is a privacy right, and one of our most fundamental rights.
You are welcome to come visit our center and see for yourself or call me at any time…