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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Your MultiVit is NOT Dangerous

The debate continues -

Last week the media vilified vitamin E based on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The problem is the form of vitamin E used in this negative study is not the same as what serious supplement users take.
Life Extension® was so outraged by the way this study was carried out that we predicted ahead of time in writing that it would fail.
Our forecast came true, as men who supplemented with synthetic alpha tocopherol experienced seriousdecreases in gamma tocopherol and a 17% increase in prostate cancer incidence.
We long ago warned that taking only synthetic alpha tocopherol would deplete critical gamma tocopherol in the body and increase one's disease risk.
This is just one reason why this negative study, designed by biased mainstream doctors, was doomed tofailure from the outset.
According to a report released this year by the National Institutes of Health, medical expenditures forcancer in the year 2020 are projected to reach $158 billion (in 2010 dollars) — an increase of 27 percentover 20101.
You can believe the medical establishment is salivating over this gargantuan future revenue stream. But there is one potential impediment. If Americans make the proper lifestyle choices and thereby reducecancer incidence, the establishment's rosy profit projections go out the window.
The media is serving as a puppet for conventional oncology in frightening Americans away from healthy decisions that could slash cancer risk. To read Life Extension's rebuttal to this vitamin E study that wasdesigned to failclick here.

NPA Challenges Wall Street Journal to Get It Right about Supplements

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Natural Products Association (NPA) is the leading representative of the dietary supplement industry with over 1,900 members, including suppliers and retailers of vitamins and other dietary supplements. NPA Executive Director and CEO John Gay responds to a story about the benefits of vitamins in the Wall Street Journal:
"It is disappointing that the Wall Street Journal would devote space to such a sensationalist and inaccurate item. Trying to scare Americans away from taking dietary supplements to improve their health is just plain irresponsible. Consumers deserve to hear more about the many benefits of vitamins and other dietary supplements, and I call on the Wall Street Journal to bring fairness to its reporting.
The story makes use of two recent studies that NPA believes did a disservice to the tens of millions of American who take dietary supplements. Detailing the flaws in the studies and the conclusions reached would take too much space, but to pick one major issue: as the Wall Street Journal acknowledges, “Observational trials can only show an association, not a cause and effect.” We agree, and find it troubling that a story in the Journal would use such a study to assert that “the case for dietary supplements is collapsing.”
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. More and more studies show that vitamins have real and widely accepted health benefits. These include providing nutrients, boosting immune systems, and improving overall health. Even the authors of the vitamin E study mentioned in the article noted the benefit of vitamin E with Alzheimer’s disease and age-related macular degeneration.
The article itself notes that calcium is “important to bone health” and folic acid “reduces the likelihood of a common birth defect if taken by pregnant women.” It also states that “Researchers and nutritionists are still recommending dietary supplements for the malnourished or people with certain nutrient deficiencies or medical conditions.”
Far from collapsing, the case for vitamins is supported by experts who know best the value of good nutrition. That is why NPA has long advocated that consumers use dietary supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle. Half of all Americans take dietary supplements because they know they work.”
Jeff Wright, NPA president and owner of Wright’s Nutrients in New Port Richey, Fla., adds:
“Like so many of my fellow health food store owners, I’m dedicated to helping consumers supplement their diets with the nutrients they need. Research is the cornerstone of our industry, and it seems that every week there is a new report about the importance of vitamins to the health of millions of Americans. Stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal might scare some Americans away from taking dietary supplements to improve their health, and that is just plain irresponsible.”

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 12, 2011

What Kind of Medical Study Would Have Grandma Believe that Her Daily Multivitamin is Dangerous?

by Robert G. Smith, PhD

(OMNS, Oct 12, 2011) A newly released study suggests that multivitamin and nutrient supplements can increase the mortality rate in older women [1]. However, there are several concerns about the study's methods and significance.
  • The study was observational, in which participants filled out a survey about their eating habits and their use of supplements. It reports only a small increase in overall mortality (1%) from those taking multivitamins. This is a small effect, not much larger than would be expected by chance. Generalizing from such a small effect is not scientific.
  • The study actually reported that taking supplements of B-complex, vitamins C, D, E, and calcium and magnesium were associated with a lower risk of mortality. But this was not emphasized in the abstract, leading the non-specialist to think that all supplements were associated with mortality. The report did not determine the amounts of vitamin and nutrient supplements taken, nor whether they were artificial or natural. Further, most of the association with mortality came from the use of iron and copper supplements, which are known to be potentially inflammatory and toxic when taken by older people, because they tend to accumulate in the body [2,3,4]. The risk from taking iron supplements should not be generalized to imply that all vitamin and nutrient supplements are harmful.
  • The study lacks scientific plausibility for several reasons. It tabulated results from surveys of 38,000 older women, based on their recall of what they ate over an 18-year period. But they were only surveyed 3 times during that period, relying only on their memory of what foods and supplements they took. This factor alone causes the study to be unreliable.
  • Some of these women smoked (~15%) or had previously (~35%), some drank alcohol (~45%), some had high blood pressure (~40%), and many of them developed heart disease and/or cancer. Some preexisting medical conditions were taken into account by adjusting the risk factors, but this caused the study to contradict what we already know about efficacy of supplements. For example, the study reports an increase in mortality from taking vitamin D, when adjusted for several health-relevant factors. However, vitamin D has recently been clearly shown to be helpful in preventing heart disease [5] and many types of cancer [6], which are major causes of death. Furthermore, supplement users were twice as likely to be on hormone replacement therapy, which is a more plausible explanation for increased mortality than taking supplements.
  • The effect of doctor recommendations was not taken into account. By their own repeated admissions, medical doctors and hospital nutritionists are more likely to recommend a daily multivitamin, and only a multivitamin, for their sicker patients. The study did not take this into account. All it did was tabulate deaths and attempt to correct the numbers for some prior health conditions. The numbers reported do not reflect other factors such as developing disease, side effects of pharmaceutical prescriptions, or other possible causes for the mortality. The study only reports statistical correlations, and gives no plausible cause for a claimed increase in mortality from multivitamin supplements.
  • The effect of education was not taken into account. When a doctor gives advice about illnesses, well-educated people will often respond by trying to be proactive. Some will take drugs prescribed by the doctor, and some will try to eat a better diet, including supplements of vitamins and nutrients. This is suggested by the study itself: the supplement users in the survey had more education than those who did not take supplements. It seems likely, therefore, the participants who got sick were more likely to have taken supplements. Because those who got sick are also more likely to die, it stands to reason that they would also be more likely to have taken supplements. This effect is purely statistical; it does not represent an increase in risk that taking supplements of vitamins and essential nutrients will cause disease or death. This type of statistical correlation is very common in observational health studies and those who are health-conscious should not be confounded by it.
  • The known safety of vitamin and nutrient supplements when taken at appropriate doses was not taken into account. The participants most likely took a simple multivitamin tablet, which contains low doses. Much higher doses are also safe [4,7], implying that the low doses in common multivitamin tablets are very safe. Further, because each individual requires different amounts of vitamins and nutrients, some people must take much higher doses for best health [8].
Summary: In an observational study of older women in good health, it was said that those who died were more likely to have taken multivitamin and nutrient supplements than those who did not. The effect was small, and does not indicate any reason for disease or death. Instead, the study's methods suggest that people who have serious health conditions take vitamin and mineral supplements because they know that supplements can help. Indeed, the study showed a benefit from taking B-complex, C, D, and E vitamins, and calcium and magnesium. Therefore, if those wanting better health would take appropriate doses of supplements regularly, they would likely continue to achieve better health and longer life.
(Robert G. Smith is Research Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania Department of Neuroscience. He is a member of the Institute for Neurological Sciences and the author of several dozen scientific papers and reviews.)
[1] Mursu J, Robien K, Harnack LJ, Park K, Jacobs DR Jr (2011) Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women. The Iowa Women's Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 171(18):1625-1633.
[2] Emery, T. F. Iron and your Health: Facts and Fallacies. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1991.
[3] Fairbanks, V. F. "Iron in Medicine and Nutrition." Chapter 10 in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, editors M. E. Shils, J. A. Olson, M. Shike, et al., 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
[4] Hoffer, A., A. W. Saul. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physicians. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2008.
[5] Parker J, Hashmi O, Dutton D, Mavrodaris A, Stranges S, Kandala NB, Clarke A, Franco OH. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2010 Mar;65(3):225-36.
[6] Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.
[7] Padayatty SJ, Sun AY, Chen Q, Espey MG, Drisko J, Levine M. Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects. PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11414.
[8] Williams RJ, Deason G. (1967) Individuality in vitamin C needs. Proc Natl Acad SciUSA.57:16381641.

Also of Interest: Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 29, 2010. Multivitamins Dangerous? Latest News from the World Headquarters Of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters.

JAMA Article Is No Reason Not to Take Your Multivitamins
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Statement from Natural Products Association (NPA) Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Cara Welch, Ph.D., about recent concerns regarding the alleged risks of dietary supplements in the Archives of Internal Medicine:
"The Natural Products Association advocates that consumers use dietary supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle. Most vitamin and mineral supplements are taken to address or prevent deficiencies. While we would prefer that Americans get these nutrients from their diet, studies have consistently shown that they do not take in the essential compounds they need.
I'm always pleased to see analysis on the long-term effects of supplementation. This study, however, is quite limited in scope; the data is observational and self-reported so contributing factors are not addressed. Subsequently, the authors cannot conclude any cause and effect and there is no reason why women should change what they're doing based on this report.
There are plenty of studies published that demonstrate the benefit of supplementation and fortification. This specific study should not dissuade the general public from the benefits of addressing a vitamin or mineral deficiency with dietary supplements. As always, consumers should discuss their supplement usage with their health care professional."

And from the UK -

Multivitamin study is “classic example of scientific reductionism”

By Shane Starling, 12-Oct-2011
Related topics: Minerals, Vitamins & premixes, Research

A study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found multivitamins, and iron and copper supplements, may increase mortality rates in older women, has been slammed by industry groups.

“This study is a classic example of scientific reductionism being used to fulfil a particular need,”said Robert Verkerk PhD, the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANHI) executive and scientific director.
“In this case, it’s supplement bashing…Our view is that the self-reporting questionnaires, and lack of any supporting data on nutrient status of the study’s subjects, means that the majority of the trends emerging from the adjusted data on which the study’s conclusions were based are likely to be anomalous.”
Dr Verkerk pointed to the positive findings for calcium supplementation as, “findings from much more robust studies”.
Unanswered questions
The UK Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) scientific adviser, Dr Michèle Sadler questioned the causality highlighted by the researchers.
“This type of study only demonstrates an association and does not tell us whether taking supplements caused these particular effects,” said Dr Sadler.
“The study has many other limitations including the unknown, longer term health status of women taking the supplements, which is more likely to be linked to mortality than the supplements themselves.”
“It’s a case of which comes first, the chicken or the egg, and raises the question of how many women were taking the supplements because of ill health. How such a wide range of essential nutrients is supposed to have these effects is another unanswered question.”
Dr Verkerk said the research was flawed in design.
“Another very important point is that many factors were not controlled for, and these likely contributed to uncontrolled sources of variation and confounding that were simply ignored. Among these is the crucial issue of the forms of nutrients taken, none of which were recorded in questionnaires.”
“For example, there are several studies that suggest that long-term use of high doses of synthetic vitamin E, beta-carotene and folic acid may increase the risk of death, these generally having at least some plausible mechanisms. But, where the natural forms are consumed, especially where these nutrients are obtained from dietary sources, quite the reverse is found.”
He said the researchers had, “knowingly, or unknowingly, played into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry, the single biggest contributor to, and controller of, medical research.”
The University of Minnesota researchers led by Jaakko Mursu, PhD, found, “several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements, including multivitamins, vitamins B6, and folic acid, as well as minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper, were associated with a higher risk of total mortality.”
See coverage of the research here.
Source: Archive of Internal Medicine
2011, Volume 171, Issue 18, Pages 1625-1633
“Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women's Health Study”
Authors: J. Mursu, K. Robien, L.J. Harnack, K. Park, D.R. Jacobs Jr
Editorial: Archive of Internal Medicine
2011, Volume 171, Issue 18, Pages 1633-1634
Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Use in Relation to All-Cause Mortality in the Iowa Women's Health Study:
Comment on "Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women"
Authors: G. Bjelakovic, C. Gluu

1 comment:

Charles Foster said...

In this article we talk about the shortcomings of insurance and how lifestyle behaviours, including eating well, exercise and chiropractic adjustments may well be better insurance than health insurance. Your behaviours are really your "health insurance" and the insurance you pay premiums for is actually "financial" insurance. It will help you cover the costs associated with being sick, but it won't make you well. Your lifestyle, on the other hand will do more to make you well and keep you well. So much so, that many insurers will lower your premiums if you keep your weight down, blood pressure down, exercise, eat right, etc, because you are less of a financial risk. Why not take a clue from them and take the necessary steps now, to be healthy later?

Check out this article

Dr. Charles L. Foster
Rutland and Brandon, VT