Monday, 18 August 2014 01:51

Is The Ice Bucket Challenge Doing More Harm Than Good?

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A few days ago I was nominated to do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, and I really hesitated to participate. I talked it over with a few people in person, then turned to social media to get the Eco-Vegan Gal community's opinion, which was really all over the place. It is evident that there is a lot of confusion and frustration around this topic, so I started doing research to learn more. Over the course of several hours pouring over websites on ALS, a book on animal testing, and several sources on water waste, I put together a video to address my findings and feelings. Since vegan chef Jason Wrobel was also nominated to do the challenge and hesitated for similar reasons, he joined me on camera to spread the message on the importance of educating ourselves before supporting a cause and joining a social trend.

People mean well when they donate to health charities, but many are unaware that they may inadvertently be supporting cruel and unnecessary animal experiments. With growing awareness of the dangers of reliance on data from animal tests, the public should be able to make an informed choice as to how their generous donations are really being spent. ~ Helen Marston, chief executive of Humane Research Australia.

Below you will find our video, and following that an outline of the data we referenced plus some we did not have time to cover. We begin by discussing what ALS is, what kind of research has been done and where the money raised is likely going, the issue of water waste through the ice bucket challenges, and the biggest elephant in the room: animal testing. We end the video offering ideas for how you can contribute to the ALS cause without supporting animal testing, as well as suggestions on how you can make a positive difference elsewhere.


My Research on ALS, Water Waste and Animal Testing:

What is ALS?

  • A rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
    • Results in low quality of life - patients lose ability to walk, talk, breathe on own, swallow
    • Causes a person to be a prisoner in their own body
  • 20-30,000 people in the US have ALS
    • 15 new cases a day- leads to about 5,600 new cases per year
    • Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis, and affects more men than women. People can get it earlier.
  • Cause of ALS is not known and there is no cure
    • In searching for the cause of ALS, researchers are also studying the role of environmental factors such as exposure to toxic or infectious agents, as well as physical trauma or behavioral and occupational factors. For example, studies of populations of military personnel who were deployed to the Gulf region during the 1991 war show that those veterans were more likely to develop ALS compared to military personnel who were not in the region. [Source]
    • Smoking cigarettes appears to increase a person's risk of ALS to almost twice that of a nonsmoker [Source]
    • Some evidence suggests that exposure to lead in the workplace may be associated with the development of ALS [Source]
    • Lyme disease research - about 90% of ALS patients test positive for lyme disease [Source]
    • An FDA-approved medicine called riluzole may help slow down symptoms.
  • Life expectancy averages for about two to five years from the time diagnosis, but people can with live with quality for five years or longer
    • about 10 percent of ALS patients survive for 10 or more years
  • Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has raised over $50 million for ALS research [Source]

Why Pour Ice Over Your Head?

  • Social media ice bucket craze actually began last winter with professional golfers trying to gain support for various pet charities [Source]
  • The purpose is for people to pour water and ice over themselves so they can experience how it temporarily affects the body's nervous system; making it difficult to move limbs and even breathe, which are some of the symptoms that ALS sufferers endure long term [Source]
  • The Last Ice Bucket Challenge You Need To See — And You Really Should See It
    • “Wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t irritating a few people”
    • ALS finally has a spotlight
    • It's not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to make a drug for it because of how few people have it
    • The ice bucket challenge videos lift spirits of ALS spirits
  • It's also meant to raise awareness of the disease and support government programs designed to help find a treatment and cure for ALS.

Is The Ice Bucket Challenge Wasting Water?

  • Sort of. Clean water is a privilege
    • only around 20% of the world’s population has running water
    • 1.1 billion people have no access to any source of clean drinking water
    • there is currently a major drought in California (where I live)
  • However, we waste a lot of water in our every day lives
    • 1 minute in the shower = five gallons
    • 1 toilet flush = 4.5 gallons
    • dishwasher, clothing washer, faucet on while brushing teeth also use several gallons of water each time we use them

Animal Testing Facts

  • How animals are being used in ALS research:
  • FDA requires a certain amount of animal testing on any drug prior to use in human subjects
    • FDA statistic stating that 92 out of 100 drugs that succeed in animal trials fail once in the human trials [Source]
    • Half of the drugs that are approved are later withdrawn or relabeled for adverse effects not detected by animal tests [Source]
    • Many of the mutations targeted by researchers only account for 5-10 percent of all ALS cases [Source]
    • It’s difficult to match toxicities from different species to diseases in humans, making any data produced highly questionable [Source]
    • Drugs that harm or kill animals may not have the same effects on humans, but since they don’t pass animal test we’ll never know if they’ll work on us [Source]
  • A great deal of ALS research funding is being spent on attempts to create animals (fruit flies, zebrafish, and rodents) with genetic mutations that produce symptoms that mimic ALS [Source]
  • Potential therapies for ALS are being investigated in a range of animal models, especially in rodent models. This work involves the testing of drug-like compounds, gene therapy approaches, antibodies and cell-based therapies [Source]
  • "Recent experiments funded by the ALS Association, mice had holes drilled into their skulls, were inflicted with crippling illnesses, and were forced to run on an inclined treadmill until they collapsed from exhaustion. Monkeys had chemicals injected into their brains and backs and were later killed and dissected" ~ Pamela Anderson
  • “Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel—it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures” ~ Pamela Anderson
  • We can’t ask animals how they feel about being tested on
  • Animal tests are mainly undocumented and federally unregulated [Source]

Alternatives to Animal Testing

  • Molecular and cellular biology and computing power
  • In vitro methods
  • Stem cell research
  • Human volunteers
    • many terminally ill people would be “guinea pigs” if regulations would allow it, especially if there was a change of survival [Source]
  • If companies funded sanctuaries to retire animals who were tested on, then we could assume that animals really would be used only where there were absolutely no alternatives [Source]
  • Urge FDA to change drug approval laws
  • Urge government to create laws that outlaw animal tests when alternatives exist
  • Reach out to lawmakers and ask them to stop cutting/start funding research
    • Members of Congress who've done the ice bucket challenge also voted to cut health funding - cut ALS research from $44 million a year to $39 million. [Source]
    • A brief surge in funding isn't the same as the sort of sustained funds the government provides (could provide)

Which Organizations Don’t Test on Animals? Which Also Support ALS Research?

  • Send ALS foundation an email, or call, urging them to stop testing on animals
  • Support drug-free treatments:

Vegan Who Have Compassionately Done The Ice Bucket Challenge:

Who Jason And I Nominated To Do A Video:

Read 9176 times Last modified on Saturday, 30 August 2014 22:58