A doctor who was profiled by The New York Times for his close personal and professional relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton has expressed skepticism about vaccines and touted research that found a link between childhood vaccinations and autism.
Dr. Mark Hyman most recently expressed those skeptical views in a book he co-wrote with Robert Kennedy Jr. titled: “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak.”
In the book and in a recent TV appearance on “Dr. Oz,” Hyman and Kennedy expressed concern that the mercury in thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, is associated with autism, developmental delays and certain illnesses.
That belief is considered controversial in the medical community.
While Hyman has claimed that he is not a so-called “anti-vaxxer,” he has questioned whether people should get the flu vaccine and has supported the theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) can cause autism and other issues.
A recent outbreak of measles has thrust the nation into a conversation about vaccinations. Naturally, the issue became political after President Obama, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were asked their thoughts on the matter.
Christie’s and Paul’s statements that they wanted to preserve some amount of freedom for parents generated massive outcry and accusations that conservatives are fueling anti-vaccination sentiment.
Though Christie and Paul did question a vaccination mandate on philosophical terms, it is Clinton who has more personal associations with vaccination skeptics and anti-vaxxers.
In 2008, both Clinton and then-Sen. Obama told the anti-vaccination group Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning that they supported the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Wanted To Investigate Link Between Vaccinations And Autism)
The Daily Beast provided another link when it reported on Wednesday that a wealthy couple who run a million-dollar anti-vaccination charity donated heavily to the “Ready for Hillary” campaign. Bill Clinton has attended two events at the couples’ Virginia mansion.
And the relationship with Hyman indicates that the prominent Democrat has closer ties to those holding anti-vaccination views than any of her potential Republican challengers.
For her part, Clinton did embrace a pro-vaccination position in a tweet sent out Monday.
In its profile, The Times reported that Hyman, who heads the Institute for Functional Medicine in New York, first met the former First Lady at a fundraiser while she was in the U.S. Senate.
Soon after, she introduced Hyman to husband Bill — a “gift” for the couples’ 30th wedding anniversary.
Hyman helped the former president following his 2004 quadruple bypass. He also convinced him to drop the vegan diet a previous doctor had prescribed.
Hyman also told The Times that he makes house calls for only two couples: the King and Queen of Jordan and the Clintons.
The former president has sang Hyman’s praises and recommends the physician to friends.
The relationship appears to extend beyond mere medical advice.
Before Hillary Clinton left her position as Secretary of State, she invited Hyman to her home to discuss health-related work with the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, The Times reported.
Hyman told The Times that after his initial fortuitous meeting with Clinton, “She then called me and we’ve just become friends.”
The guru also attended Chelsea Clinton’s 2010 wedding.
And a three-hour dinner with Clinton in 2013 sparked a New York Post article speculating that she was getting in shape for a 2016 presidential bid.
While Hyman appears to have helped the Clintons with their personal health, his position on some vaccinations is of concern to others who believe his views on the issue could be harmful to the general public.
For one physician, the concern with Hyman’s stance also extends to concern that Clinton will heed his advice should she become president, or worse — appoint him to a health policy position in her administration.
“Hyman’s position close to the Clintons is very worrisome,” Dr. David Gorski, a surgeon at Wayne State University and editor at the website Science-Based Medicine, told The Daily Caller. “He wrote an antivaccine book with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., after all. He promotes all manner of non-evidence-based medicine, which he lumps together under the category of ‘functional medicine.'”
Among red flags that have been raised is an article Hyman wrote at his blog — later published at The Huffington Post — claiming that the retraction of a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield published by The Lancet “seemed more about inquisition and less honest scientific inquiry.”
Wakefield’s study was once considered the holy grail by anti-vaxxers because it drew a link between thimerosal and delayed development in children.
Few now defend Wakefield’s study after it was discovered that he manipulated data, paid children at a birthday party to draw their blood, and had a financial interest in the development of another vaccine at the time he conducted his research.
While Hyman’s skepticism has recently focused on the flu vaccine, he has also raised the more controversial question about the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).
“These children can’t handle the vaccine [maybe because mercury suppresses their immune system] and then the normally benign live measles virus in the vaccine takes root in the body and sends these kids into an even deeper spiral of brain dysfunction,” Hyman wrote at his site.
In their recent appearance on Dr. Oz, both Hyman and Kennedy steadfastly maintained that they are not anti-vaxxers. Both said they have had their children vaccinated.
A request for comment sent to Hyman’s publicist about whether he has discussed vaccination or thimerosal with the Clintons was not returned.