% New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia
Milstein Hospital Bldg. Room 7 GN 435
177 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10032
Dear Doctor Oz:
After I was diagnosed with an allergy to corn in 2011, it was quite clear that my life would never be the same. My own allergist and primary care physician could not grasp trying to survive with this devastating diagnosis. In the course of my advocacy work, it has also become apparent that many medical professionals do not understand the ubiquitousness of corn/corn derivatives. As a result, this could potentially place the corn-allergic patient’s life in danger; e.g., administering IV fluids with corn-derived dextrose; and from personal experience, hospitals are ill-equipped to nourish the corn-allergic patient.
Lack of Accurate Allergy Statistics:
First let me share with you the FACTS that I have uncovered in my own personal research:
FACT: Congress is responsible for declaring a particular food an allergen, thereby subject to FDA labeling requirements.
FACT: There are no allergy/anaphylactic reporting requirements by physicians and/or hospitals into any state or government database; therefore, it is dangerous and irresponsible for any person, physician, or organization to declare that specific food allergies are rare; e.g., corn/corn derivatives.
FACT: All current food allergy statistics are estimated, and not based on factual evidence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) admitted to me that they do NOT gather food allergy statistics during their national in-home surveys, and they do NOT gather ANY allergy statistics for anyone over the age of 18.
FACT: Many physicians falsely claim that no one can be allergic to corn, stating that "corn is hypoallergenic." In addition, some physicians actually refuse to test a patient for a suspected allergy to corn; and after seeking a second opinion, their corn allergy was confirmed. [Written testimonies attest to these facts.]
FACT: An allergy to corn/corn derivatives can be life-threatening (ingestion-reactive, inhalation-reactive, or contact-reactive), resulting in anaphylaxis (published medical papers confirm this fact).
FACT: Removing the corn "protein" from a product does NOT render the product hypoallergenic. This is a false narrative made by many manufacturers, and can result in a fatal anaphylactic reaction to the corn-allergic individual.
FACT: The corn allergy statistics that I have gathered from one corn allergy group (there are many groups), are currently the only accurate corn allergy statistics; and my statistics have revealed that there is an emerging corn allergy crisis.
"July, 2016, Month-End Statistics: In one corn allergy group, alone, membership has increased by 385.9% over a period of 37 months with an average of 104.3 new members/month."
Following is my paper that I submitted to many members of Congress, and I also shared it with hospitals and media across the United States exposing the lack of accurate allergy statistics.
"After I discovered that Congress is responsible for declaring particular foods allergens, I was curious as to the source of their data; therefore, I conducted my own research. I contacted a representative with my local hospital health system and posed the following question: Are hospitals and/or allergists required to submit allergy testing results and/or anaphylactic reactions (with the offending food/drug) into a state or government database? I was surprised to discover that there are no reporting requirements. If Congress is responsible for declaring a particular food an allergen (per the FDA); and since there is no government clearinghouse from which to gather this information, how is Congress able to make the determination as to which foods are to be declared allergens? I have contacted over a dozen government agencies, and no one knows the answer to this question.
As a result of my findings, I would like to suggest two possible resolutions for the benefit of Congress, as well as for the benefit of those suffering with allergies:
1. Establish an online database of allergy statistics, through an "Allergy Registry." This registry would be voluntary and include only allergies confirmed by physicians--not self-diagnosed--and would also include the most important statistic: anaphylactic reactions. This would be an invaluable tool for Congress in declaring foods allergens. For example, there are many corn allergy support groups. In one group, alone, the membership has increased by over 318% in 32 months, averaging 100.6 new members/month [current increase is 376.7%], many of whom are anaphylactic to corn/corn derivatives, such as corn-derived dextrose IV fluids and corn-derived citric acid. How is Congress expected to know about this dramatic increase in corn allergies if there are no reporting requirements into a state or government database? The proposed "Allergy Registry" would expose this dramatic increase in corn allergies as well as provide valuable data on other allergens.
2. Request a Congressional mandate that hospitals and allergists report all allergy/anaphylactic statistics into a government database (just the statistics--no patient names for privacy purposes). Without this reporting requirement, how can Congress (the responsible body for declaring foods allergens) make an informed decision about which foods to declare as official allergens, which would then be subject to FDA labeling requirements?"
Struggling to Survive with a Corn Allergy:
The corn allergy population can consume very few processed foods and no commercially-processed non-organic meat, poultry, fish, produce, or fruit due to government-authorized corn-derived acid washes. Since corn/corn derivatives are used in the manufacturing of most prescription drugs, vitamins, and supplements; many people with a corn allergy must have their medications compounded to exclude corn (even my Benadryl contains corn). Probably our most critical concern is finding safe, corn-free drinking water due to corn-derived purification chemicals.
As a corn allergy advocate, I have read heartbreaking stories from parents of corn-allergic infants who have been diagnosed with "failure to thrive" due to the lack of corn-free formulas/baby foods. Their physicians cannot recommend any alternative safe sources of corn-free nutrition for these struggling babies. Other testimonies relate to disrespectful and humiliating treatment by uneducated medical professionals; e.g., the ER staff belittled one corn-allergic patient who instructed the medical staff that they must not administer IV fluids with corn-derived dextrose. The staff claimed that "no one can be allergic to dextrose." What the medical community needs to learn is the difference between dextrose and corn-derived dextrose (iodized salt with corn-derived dextrose can be fatal), citric acid and corn-derived citric acid, ascorbic acid and corn-derived ascorbic acid, etc. The product information sheet from Baxter Laboratories clearly states that IV fluids with corn-derived dextrose are contraindicated for administration to corn-allergic patients. In an effort to educate the medical community, I have contacted state hospital associations from Hawaii to Maine, physicians/nurses professional associations, major hospitals across the nation, and major news organizations. The following article by Iowa Corn, "Corn: It's Everything," explains why is it a daily struggle to survive with this allergy.
It is my hope that you, Dr. Oz, can assist me in educating not only the public, but the medical community as well. I'm providing you with the link to my Corn Allergy Advocacy/Resources blog, as well as the link to the cornallergygirl blog (I am not the author of her blog). Thank you.
Diane H., Corn Allergy Advocate
Corn Allergy Advocacy/Resources
August 8, 2016
I emailed a copy of this letter to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (acaai.org) and to the Corn Refiners Association in response to their October, 2006, article (link follows).