The deaths are coming at a quickening pace, and with them contradictory feelings. You want to honor the victims and their many accomplishments, grieve the losses. You also want to shake people, scream at them: Why did you continue to reject all efforts to caution the Weston A. Price Foundation community about so-called fermented cod liver oil? Why did you ridicule those who simply asked for more testing?
Even as I update a post I did in 2017 about FCLO being a potential “ticking time bomb” because of illnesses and deaths associated with the supplement–including those of naturopath Ron Schmid and dental author Ramiel Nagel–I should point out that there is no definitive proof that any of the deaths are from FCLO. As time goes on, though, the number of premature deaths of individuals associated with WAPF and FCLO has become noteworthy. A number of the victims and their families have been reluctant to discuss FCLO usage; this is understandable, since not many individuals want to think that a supplement they were supposedly taking to improve their health was actually undermining their health, and even killing them.
FCLO is the stuff that nutritionist Kaayla Daniel, a former board member of WAPF, concluded back in 2015 was rancid, and therefore dangerous for long-term consumption. Once she released her study about the dangers of FCLO that year, she was summarily kicked off the WAPF board.
Here is a list of nine individuals (in addition to Schmid and Nagel) associated with WAPF who have died what can only be categorized as premature deaths in the last few years; the information mostly comes from their friends and acquaintances, along with Internet postings. It isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, since there are others who have died or are dying who aren’t included here:
— Kim Schuette, a WAPF board member and nutritionist associated with promotion of FCLO, died earlier this week, Christmas day, at age 59. She is one of three WAPF-associated individuals who have died of glioblastoma brain cancer. Her family had launched a GoFundMe campaign in recent weeks to raise $50,000 for expenses associated with Kim’s care. As of the time of her death, some $44,000 had been raised. According to the site: “Late this last May, Kim was surprisingly diagnosed with grade-four glioblastoma brain cancer. Neurologists found two masses, one on each side of her brain. Kim underwent two successful surgeries in the span of three weeks, and has spent the last five months in recovery. With a medical team comprised of some of the country’s leading glioblastoma experts at UCSD and her trusted colleagues in holistic health, Kim has persevered…..Early in November, Kim’s MRI revealed recurring tumors in her brain. This recurrence has brought new challenges, and is requiring new treatments as well as in-home health care.”
She encouraged use of FCLO for conditions like autism, and was understood from friends to have taken it.
—Cherie Calvert, who was a founding member of the WAPF board, died in late November of breast cancer; she was 63. Calvert wasn’t known to have recommended or taken the FCLO, but had remained with the board as it fought off demands that it step back from its enthusiastic endorsement of the Green Pasture product.
Maureen Diaz, a long-time WAPF member, wrote this on Cherie’s Facebook page Nov. 27: “My dear friend Cherie, lost her fight with cancer last evening. And I do mean fight, as she didn’t just do all the usual things, she truly fought with this disease furiously, but could not conquer it. Sometimes these things are bigger than can be managed no matter what we do, and so at least now the suffering is over for her. Those who knew Cherie, loved her, and all of us will miss her greatly. There is already a big hole in my own heart, and I know it can not be filled with anyone else.”
—Jessica Earle was a long-time WAPF enthusiast and mother, who died last month at age 44, also of glioblastoma stage IV. She was unusual in that she lived for six years with the brain cancer, apparently benefiting from treatment by a prominent alternative practitioner. She had a blog chronicling her illness and sought funds to help defray costs of her treatment.
—Eoin Miller, a WAPF chapter leader in Ireland, died in late 2017 from liver cancer. He was a GAPS practitioner and exercise scientist, and was only 34. He left behind a wife and young child. He promoted FCLO and is understood to have taken it.
—Jim Canty, the husband of Kristin Canty, died in April 2017 from glioblastoma. He was 54, and worked as a private investor in the Boston area. Kristin, of course, is the producer of the documentary about regulator crackdowns on raw milk producers and food clubs, “Farmageddon”, and now operates two restaurants in Concord, MA, that prepare food in the WAPF tradition. Jim is understood to have taken FCLO.
—Katherine Czapp, who had been editor for the WAPF journal Wise Traditions, died in late 2016 at age 60. She died of a type of colorectal cancer, as did her husband about a year before she did. Both were understood to have been users of FCLO
—Carol Esche, a nurse and a former board member of WAPF, died in late 2016 of metastatic breast cancer. It’s not known if she took FCLO. She was 59.
—Lauren Feder Haarpaintner, the author of a book on natural pregnancy, died in late 2015 of bone cancer at age 55. She was understood to have promoted FCLO on her web site.
—Chris Decker was a gifted naturopath, who was diagnosed in 2014 with a strange abdominal cancer that was so fast and vicious that oncologists couldn’t figure out what was going on. In early 2015, she pleaded for donations on her Facebook page: “As far as the MDs are concerned, the prognosis is pretty dismal. There is however, an enormous amount that natural medicine can do, and I’m seeing two wonderful cancer specialists. Already I’m feeling the benefits of their wise ministrations. The bugbear is that this is very expensive. It’s not so much the practitioners’ fees (thanks to their kindness) but the cost of all the medicines, some other treatments, various medical equipment, and, on top of that, all the regular bills that have to be paid. Some close friends have already helped out despite not being exactly flush themselves. But we’ve quickly realized I need a much larger, broader effort–probably involving a lot of kind souls I’ve never even had the pleasure of meeting. I figure I need to raise about $100,000 to cover treatment costs and other bills over the coming months. And time is definitely of the essence. So I guess I’m asking for the kindness of friends and strangers alike. Anything you can spare would be wonderful–literally a lifesaver.” As a WAPF loyalist, she’d been taking FCLO for years and was given extra doses during her final months by a close friend. She died later in 2015 at the age of 61.
Kaayla Daniel had this to say about the recent deaths: “I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend Kim Schuette. I am even more saddened by the fact that Kim is the most recent in a long list of cancer victims known to be long-time consumers of Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO). I did my best to warn Kim, Ramiel Nagel and others at the Weston A. Price Foundation that FCLO was provably rancid and probably carcinogenic. Regrettably, she and others there put their loyalty to Sally Fallon’s opinions ahead of scientific data and common sense. Correlation does not equal causation, but the link here is strong and sobering. I hope their deaths will serve as a wakeup call.”
It’s hard to know. The wife of Ron Schmidt has blamed his death on his consumption of FCLO over several years; Schmid himself blamed heart problems he had leading up to his death on FCLO.
The wife of dental expert and author Ramiel Nagel, however, has discounted any connection between FCLO and his death from cancer. In emails to me a few months ago, Michelle objected to my suggestion that his brain stem cancer was the result of consuming FCLO: “Our family has been taking FCLO for over 15 years now. Ramiel never did take very much, because he had a sensitive digestion. He maybe took 1/4 teaspoon per day, some days not at all. Blaming the cod liver oil for his death is a rumor.” She then took me to task for suggesting FCLO may be associated with the health problems that have emerged: “You have created a petri dish blog for unnecessary rumors, and negativity. I think you should question your own motives before creating this kind of atmosphere.”
I guess my response is that readers should make up their own minds. I do know this much: There seem to be more premature deaths than one might expect from a population committed to healthy eating. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to break away from a cult, even when the advice of its leader is found to be highly questionable. Cult leaders never admit error or weakness. Eventually, though, their cults invariably crash and burn by self destructing.