The ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease) Ice Bucket challenge has been sweeping the nation. Amid all the hubbub and celebrity media it’s easy to forget exactly why people began doing this in the first place! According to the ALSA website, “The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.” Why the ice bucket challenge? Some theories are that the sudden shock of the ice water hitting your body causes you to freeze and is analogous to the paralysis of muscles and weakness that someone suffering ALS feels as the disease continues to degenerate nerves that control voluntary movements. The challenge has raised more than $50 million for the ALS Association, to be spent on research….well, maybe.
How & What does the ALS Foundation research?
Stem cell research: “The ALS Association primarily funds adult stem cell research. Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)” (The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “The FAQS: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” requote of spokeswoman from ALSA).
Scientists are optimistic about using stem cells because stem cells can be cultivated to become any type of tissue in the body, theoretically opening doors for endless experimentation and opportunity without needing actual test subjects, be they animal or human. Adult stem cells are already used in the medical field today for life-saving procedures such as stem cell- transplants. While they may be a valuable resource, the ethics of obtaining stem cells is in question. Human embryonic stem cells are derived from pre-implantation embryos, mostly spare embryos from in vitro fertilization.There is also the creation of embryos specifically for obtaining cells for research, through a process called “therapeutic cloning” (Oxford Journals, Human Reproduction “Human embryonic stem cells: research, ethics, and policy” For this reason, many Christians have abstained from taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Laboratory testing on animals: From the ALSA website, “Important lab models in ALS include cells, worms, flies, fish, mice, and rats. No model is a perfect representation of the human disease, but each model offers advantages for studying some aspect of it.” Animal testing is completely unnecessary as animal models do not make good human models. From the American Anti- Vivisection Society, “Problems with Animal Research”: “The claim that animals are necessary for biomedical research is unsupported by the scientific literature. Instead, there is growing awareness of the limitations of animal research and its inability to make reliable predictions about human health.”
Pamela Andersen recently rejected the Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday and posted this to Facebook:
Conflict of Interest: Follow the money
The ALSA research and clinical trials focus on drug therapy to combat the disease, read more on their website: “Learn About ALS Research- Clinical Trials”. The pharmaceutical industry funds research for drug cures, which is the widely accepted route to finding a “cure” in the scientific and medical community. The global pharmaceutical industry is worth US$300 billion dollars, when an organization receives federal grants for research, they are not going to recommend alternative therapies or nutritional treatment. The organization is going to fund drug trials and research to keep their govt. granters happy. The same goes for grants received from college research hospitals, etc.
(T. Colin Campbell does a great job detailing how money has led to corruption in the scientific and medical field in his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition).
The Challenge= Irresponsible Water Waste
Lastly, the challenge is a waste of fresh, clean drinking water. There is currently a drought in California, not to mention the millions of people who die world-wide from diseases related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation 😦
Summary: My Thoughts
I understand that there needs to be awareness brought to sufferers of ANY disease. However, this particular challenge does not sit well with me, and I am not the only one criticizing it. I hope that by reading this people might rethink the challenge, whose importance has been blown out of proportion by the social media, entertainment media, and celebrity acceptance. There are other ways to show your awareness of the disease and help find a cure. Spread the healthy nutrition message. There are alternative therapies to ALS out there, including diet related treatments. Drugs aren’t the only way, and the ALSA is not the only route through which to find a cure.
I hope everyone today can find a way to be a little healthier and happier! Continue to educate yourself to learn, grow and be the best person you can be on this day 🙂