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Retrieved from archive How A Medical Geographer Discovered A Disease Approach That Works… “This is the story of Dr. Harold Foster, a medical geographer who looked geographically where diseases occur, or do not occur, and studied the reasons why.” Dr. Foster attended the University College London where he earned his PhD in Geology and Geography. He was immediately recruited as a professor at the University of Victoria where he taught for 41 years. He was a world renowned lecturer and author in disaster planning, where his books on physical types of disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc) are published worldwide. But then in the early 1980’s… Foster’s wife was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and his whole world was flipped upside down. She began undergoing conventional treatment, but no improvements were noticed. In fact, her condition continued to worsen. Foster was not satisfied with the results of her chemotherapy and radiation and refused to just stand by and watch his wife deteriorate any further. He decided to take everything he had learned about disasters and disaster planning, and look at cancer as just another type of “disaster” to see if anything could be done. He undertook a massive study with time working against him... He began by exploring the distribution patterns of cancer globally, and it wasn’t long before he discovered that cancer does not strike at random. He found significant differences in the geographic patterns of death resulting from it. The mortality patterns appeared to suggest that the causes of cancer were extremely complex. Yet despite the complexity, the distributions clearly contained many clues. In an effort to explain the unanticipated cancer mortality distribution, Dr. Foster developed a computer data bank containing information on 219 different natural and man-made environmental substances along with 66 different types of cancer. Being a professor with no outside support and with funding coming from his own pocket, he relied primarily on data he could obtain from United States government sources, as it was available for free. Once all the data was inputted, he ran a statistical correlation analysis – and from that analysis, he uncovered something truly amazing. Foster discovered 5 variables associated with either a low or high incidence of cancer mortality. Selenium Areas with high levels of selenium in the soil had extremely low levels of cancer. Hard Drinking Water Areas with hard drinking water (i.e. lots of calcium and magnesium for example) also had low levels of cancer mortality. Sunshine Areas with lots of sunshine had low cancer mortality levels – except too much seemed to increase skin cancer levels. So on one hand, sunshine seemed to protect people from every type of cancer, while too much increased skin cancer. Mercury Areas with high levels of mercury in the soil had high levels of cancer mortality. Road Salt Areas with a lot of road salt usage had high levels of cancer mortality. He later discovered that under the ‘wrong’ conditions, road salt became very dangerous. Because of a chemical applied to the salt to prevent it from clumping up in the trucks while spreading the salt, if after laying the salt it gets wet, then the sun shines on it, it gives off a toxic form of cyanide. A form known to cause cancer. He isolated these 5 variables and understood that just because something is highly correlated to something else, it doesn’t mean it “causes” it. So, he hypothesized that if he could find a region of the world with high selenium, hard drinking water, lots of sunshine, low mercury and no road salt, they should have very little cancer. Dr. Foster, being an expert in geography, geology and geomorphology, knew right where to look. Senegal, a tiny country in sub-saharan West Africa held the answer. He knew that Senegal had the second highest concentration of selenium in the world, second only to Bolivia. He also knew that they have some of the hardest drinking water in the world as they sit on a dried up arm of the sea. And they also sit on the equator, so they get plenty sunshine. They have very little mercury in their soils and of course being on the equator, they have no use for road salt. And guess what? Senegal has one of the lowest cancer rates in the world for almost every type of cancer. He wrote a book about this discovery, titled: Reducing Cancer Mortality: A Geographical Perspective. Sadly, his wife succumbed to her illness while he was conducting this exhaustive research, but his efforts to share these findings lives on. Dr. Foster then began teaching medical geography at the University of Victoria. He would put a list of diseases on the chalk board and ask his students to vote on which diseases he would lecture on during the semester. Students loved his democratic style of teaching and how he made the class relevant to the students. In 1999, one of his students asked why HIV/AIDS was not on the list. Foster explained that he liked to focus on chronic degenerative diseases as opposed to infectious diseases. But, they insisted and being the true gentleman that he was, he relented and put together a series of lectures on the leading theories of what causes HIV/AIDS. After his lectures, Dr. Foster asked his students if they were satisfied, and all of them agreed they were. He then told them something that surprised every last one of them. Foster didn't agree with any of the current HIV/AIDS theories. His students said that if he was such a 'smarty pants,’ then he should figure out what causes HIV/AIDS. Shortly after this Dr. Foster was guest lecturing at the University of Ottawa and because the University was trying to be cost-conscious, they made him stay over a Saturday so his return flight was less expensive. Being a voracious reader, he was milling about in one of the student lounges, and he picked up a university newspaper called “The African Drum.” He sat down, opened it up, and right there in front of him was the caption that read: Why is it that the Senegalese don’t get HIV/AIDS? In this article, the author questioned something very interesting… Why has Senegal had the lowest HIV infection rates in Africa when they are the prostitution sex trade capital of West Africa? Polygamy is legal in Senegal, with many men having several wives.In other words, from the common perception at the time, they seemed to be doing everything wrong, yet, they weren’t impacted by AIDS. The lightbulb went off for Dr. Foster since he had done research almost 15 years earlier on Senegal and cancer mortality. He knew instantly the connection between the two.He knew that selenium played a key role in people’s immune systems, and played a very key role in the DNA of HIV. After all of this, and years of testing this idea and seeing results on the ground in Africa, as well as other countries, it became painstakingly obvious to the casual observer that this needed serious attention. So he wrote another book, this one was the first in the “What Really Causes” series, titled: What Really Causes Aids. (click here to learn more on this subject) Subsequent to all of this, Dr. Foster realized that he could take the same approach with other diseases, and began running this same statistical analysis using the same 219 environmental variables, and collecting and analyzing all of the data. He then went on to publish on various diseases, the second of which was Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Foster has made important discoveries in Alzheimer’s Disease that he believed could help reduce human suffering immeasurably. In Late 2000, Foster was asked how specializing in medical geography has assisted him in his research of Alzheimer's Disease. He responded: "Medical geography is a branch of geography that studies the significance of location in medicine. Medical geographers seek answers from the environment, rather than from the disease. In Alzheimer’s for example, what first caught my attention was that the disease was more common in regions of highly acidic rain, and in people drinking water that was elevated in aluminum." "Aluminum has been known to be a neurotoxin for over 100 years. It has been shown in Norway, England and Wales and Canada that people who drink water that is high in dissolved aluminum are most likely to get Alzheimer's disease." Aluminum is just one of the links Foster researched between our environment and the disease. There are numerous others that need to be exposed to the public. We’ve already put them through early testing and the results fully support his research. But we need your help to continue. So the question is: "How can I learn more about Dr. Foster's research and start protecting myself ASAP?" I'm glad you asked. Let me introduce to you... "The Foster Team Membership" As a Foster Team Member you will: - Stay up to date on the latest disease research. - Support the foundation in its goal to improve the lives of others. - Learn how to implement Dr. Foster's research into your lifestyle. - Receive invitations to live educational events on various disease topics. For less than the price of a cup of coffee each month (and FAR less than the cost of medical care), you'll learn what you need to change and what you need to keep doing to protect your family from modern diseases. Simply click on one of the two membership options below to get started: Well Being Journal GoBox Organics The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine Bomgi Copyright © 2009 Harold Foster Foundation, all rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Sitemap Harold Foster Foundation,
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