Since 1940, between 8 million and 32 million Americans have died from magnesium deficiency, which causes cardiac disease, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac death, and suicide, among other causes of death. Currently, annual American deaths from magnesium deficiency are between 215,000 and 869,000.
By comparison, the deaths from the Hiroshima atom bomb were only 80,000 to 200,000, so magnesium deficiency is equivalent to the atomic bombings of several small American cities each year. For another comparison, all American war deaths in the history of the country total much less than 2,000,000, so magnesium deficiency is a much greater catastrophe than all American wars combined. Another comparison is Hitler's Holocaust, which claimed 6-10 million lives.
COMPARISONS OF Mg-DEFICIENCY DEATHS TO OTHER CATASTROPHES CAUSE OF DEATH LOW ESTIMATE HIGH ESTIMATE Mg Deficit 1940-1994 8,000,000 32,000,000 Annual USA Mg Deficit 215,000 869,000 Hiroshima Atom Bomb 80,000 200,000 All American War Deaths 1,500,000 2,000,000 Hitler's Holocaust 6,000,000 10,000,000
No doubt each of the intelligence agencies will argue that Mg deficiency is a problem outside their special mandate, and so is no fault of theirs. Those assigned to foreign territories will claim that even though almost all the research has been conducted outside the U.S., the deaths occurred inside the U.S., so it is of no concern to the external intelligence agencies. And intelligence agencies covering the domestic beat will argue just the opposite, that nearly all the information lay outside of the U.S., and therefore outside their jurisdiction. And all the intelligence agencies will argue that it's not their job to keep track of the failures of domestic agencies, such as NIH, NAS, FDA, CDC, and the Surgeon General. And they will argue that these are not 8 million to 32 million cases of manslaughter or criminal negligence, but merely 8-32 million cases of accidental death, and therefore not their concern.
How did such a catastrophe occur? By the myopia caused by venality, hubris, and power struggles, similar to the gridlock that enveloped NASA for several decades.
From reading and personal discussions, I have gained the following historical overview.
For over 100 years, European communist intellectuals were known to drink mineral water, so American anti-communists made "pure water" a rallying cry to besmirch the mineral-drinking leftists. In fiction, the pure-water-drinking-right-winger is a stereotype. Joe McCarthy would not have been caught dead drinking a mineral water.
Until 1940, medicine in this country was regulated by the American Medical Association, which functioned as part medieval guild, part old-boy social club, and as a quasi-governmental regulatory agency. The AMA would finger charlatans, who would then be prosecuted or hounded out of business. From the very first, the AMA has been very conscious of the financial aspects of the medical profession, generally choosing the most expensive procedures rather than the simple cures. Home remedies and folk medicine were suspect because they were cheap, and the practitioners were outside the club. Many mineral spring waters were commonly thought to have curative powers, which was an old European tradition still practiced in Europe. But mineral water was cheap and not within the control of the AMA, so it was gradually suppressed, and Americans were taught that "pure" water was best, meaning no minerals. In 1880, American mineral waters were popular, but by 1950, "pure" was in.
Evidently, the AMA's conflicts of interest caused the government to wish for an "arm's length" regulatory agency, and so the FDA was born in 1940, an offspring of New Deal legislation. But the FDA was staffed by AMA doctors and others who had been educated in the way the AMA thought, so little changed. The FDA had its own reasons for suppressing the benefits of minerals in water; the FDA wanted only "proven" benefits, meaning proofs that had required vast quantities of FDA man-hours. It was not sufficient that something worked; it had to enhance the FDA bureaucracy by requiring thousands or millions of pages of documentation. The mineral water industry, lacking patents to protect any investment, and prohibited from any health claims, was slowly strangled and replaced with companies peddling "pure" water.
As the decades rolled along, it became increasingly evident that water-borne Mg plays a major role in the prevention of all kinds of cardiac disease and cardiac death, and a hundred other ailments. But by 1980, magnesium had become an embarrassment to the American medical establishment as the magnitude of the blunder and cover-up became evident, so an even stronger, informal campaign of denial and suppression began. Numerous blue-ribbon committees stated that magnesium deficiency had no connection to any chronic diseases, etc, etc.
In the 1950's through the present, Dr. Mildred Seelig has carried the banner of magnesium in the U.S., but she has been ignored, and has received negligible funding. In the 1970's through 1994, Doctors Bella and Burton Altura have carried the banner of magnesium, and the evidence has become overwhelming, but the FDA, NAS, NIH, and others have simply ignored or denied the evidence. By then these agencies could not bear to acknowledge that they had blundered, covered up, and killed millions in the process.
And so things stand: overwhelming evidence, mostly foreign, that magnesium can prevent much heart disease and cardiac death; and a huge heart-disease industry loathe to destroy itself by admitting that much heart disease is easily and cheaply preventable with magnesium; thousands of heart specialists who will be out of work if magnesium intakes are increased to 10 mg per Kg of body weight; dozens or hundreds of cardiac hospitals that will go bankrupt if magnesium intake is increased to 10 mg/Kg; and a host of guilty government health agencies who don't wish to admit their bad advice has killed millions; and all the brave intelligence agencies who don't want to be involved, and would rather let millions die than get into a turf war with the FDA and AMA, et al.
So what to do now? BLOW THE WHISTLE!
Paul Mason, P.O. Box 1417, Patterson, CA 95363
July 4, 1994
Dr. John Zwicky, MD, of The Association of Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS) has provided the following outline of how to research the history of the magnesium catastrophe more thoroughly. Dr. Zwicky has been an archivist for the AMA.
The AMA archives has a fair amount of material on the mineral water industry in their historical health fraud collection. Most of the material concerns specific companies. The material consists of circulars and other advertisements by the companies, correspondence between members of the public and the AMA Bureau of Investigation regarding the products, chemical analyses of the products themselves (the water was usually anything but pure, clean water), and notices of federal judgements against the companies. The historical health fraud collection also has some records of federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, which prosecuted companies for misbranding or other offenses. You can contact the AMA archives at (312) 464-4083. The archivist is Jane Kenamore. They do charge for any archival services. However, you may want to start with them.
If I were in your position, I would start with the AMA and take plenty of notes, then move on to the federal agencies. Some major libraries, especially univerisities, may have government publications sections going back that far. They may have the published notices of enforcement actions by these agencies. For other records of federal action against individual companies, you may contact the FDA to see if they have an archives or if their records are in the National Archives. Likewise with the Federal Trade Commission.
The Department of Justice is another matter. If the Department or any other department went into federal court to prosecute a company, the records would end up in the court records for that federal district. You would need to find out which federal district court it went to and which branch of the the National Archives has those court records. Speaking from experience, court records are often voluminous, but very interesting and informative. You will need to check the docket books first and then identify the case that you want to look at.
The National Archives has records centers in major cities all over the country, including Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and a number of places in between. Holdings will roughly correspond to the boundaries of the federal court districts. For example, the Chicago records center has court records for all federal district and appellate courts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. I think Ohio's are in Columbus, Ohio.
If the FDA and FTC have records in the national archives, some may have been regionalized, which means that the records centers noted above will have these records as well. In this case, you will need to know the regional boundaries for the field offices of these agencies.
Finally, you might check to see if anything else has been published. A few years ago, there was an article in the Journal of American History on the promotional activities of Crazy Water Crystals, a mineral water product promoted in the South where the local diet of fatback and "good home cooking" created problems of indigestion, constipation, obesity and other ailments.
All the historical sources cited above are the records of the AMA, FDA, and the Dept. Of Justice. For the other side of the Mg-deficiency story, historians may benefit from the following books, and the wealth of references and bibliographies found in them:
The Dictocrats, by Omar Garrison (an old exposé of the FDA).
Crazy Water -- The Story of Mineral Wells and Other Texas Health Resorts, by Gene Fowler, Texas Christian University Press, 1991.
This page was first uploaded to The Magnesium Web Site on September 30, 1995