Alternative Health Care News

Vitamin Propaganda Continues

I am completely disgusted and seriously alarmed by the tenor of “health news” of late. Have you noticed? Everything is aimed at discrediting vitamins. Never mind that the studies are seriously flawed. Never mind that other studies show the importance of vitamins to human health. The drug companies (the entities who finance “medical” research in this country) have an agenda — creating doubt about vitamins in the mind of the average American. Then, when the UN Codex goes into effect (yes, it’s still in the works and its implementation is being negotiated), there will be no hue and cry.

One Sunday morning in February of this year (2007) was an excellent example. I had Fox News on and their medical specialist was reviewing the latest medical “news.” The featured stories included the “dangers” of antioxidants, the uselessness of garlic and, oh yes, the safety of estrogen replacement therapy! I think what made it so powerful to me was the juxtaposition of stories, combined with the news items I have seen that have been completely overlooked by the media that demonstrate just how important vitamins are to human health. So, let me debunk this morning’s news and fill you in on some very interesting data. This letter is quite lengthy, but I think the information too important to shortchange.

First, the “dangers” of antioxidants: One of the media outlets actually ran a headline “Vitamins Can Kill!”. Isn’t yellow journalism wonderful? Now to the facts. The study is a statistical analysis of previously done research. Since the numbers in the study are so large, it is considered the ‘best’ study done. The statisticians substitute quantity as their primary criterion, rather than the quality of the data. And, if you read the report, you will find that the analysts massaged the statistics to get the result they were looking for. When they first did their analysis the results were neutral. So, they threw out one-third of the studies in order to demonstrate a very small increase in mortality among people taking anti-oxidants. They didn’t even respect their own standards!

And, as if that weren’t clue enough to their bias, there was also no control for health status or for whether the anti-oxidants were being taken singly or in combination. Or, even what form or what quality of the anti-oxidants the participants were taking. Why are these parameters important? First of all, many people in our culture only turn to vitamin therapy when they are very sick or dying. Obviously, there is a higher death rate among sick people than well people of the same age! That’s a ‘duh’! But, it wasn’t considered important enough to be taken into account. Secondly, several studies indicate that anti-oxidants work in concert with each other. Taking them as single items — the medical, drug-based model — results in aberrant outcomes. They either don’t work as well, or cause unexpected problems. A good example was the Finnish study from the 1980’s that indicated problems with anti-oxidants. It was then revealed that Finland has no naturally-occurring selenium in its soil. And, selenium is crucial to the activity of vitamin E. But, no selenium supplementation was included in the study. (For a more detailed discussion, you can access two articles I wrote “Finnish Anti-Oxidant Study” and “Sorting Out The Anti-Oxidant Controversy” on our web site under the Heading “Vitamins .” Just click “Treatments” on the green navigation bar, and then click on Vitamins on the left hand side.)

However, the point of the most recent anti-oxidant study wasn’t clarity, although the study’s primary author insists that it was. I think the conclusion of the study’s author says it all, “The governments of the world now have the responsibility to inform people of these results. They have been too slow in the past in requesting that health supplements are properly evaluated, and allowing these products to be added to foods. People have been buying these supplements and foods advertised as having these supplements added under the impression that they are good for them, when in actual fact they are harmful. Any potential health supplements should not be allowed to be added to foods unless they have been shown to be beneficial, or at least proven not to be harmful.” (emphasis added) In the article on Medscape, the author commented that the study’s author said that food supplements should be regulated in the same way as medical products. (The article can be accessed through a Google search: antioxidants + JAMA + 2007; click on Antioxidant Vitamins May Increase Mortality).

I believe the whole point is to accustom people to government regulation of their health options. We are facing a concerted effort to make all herbs and supplements by prescription only. (For more information on this, you can go to )

At the end of the Fox News segment on this anti-oxidant research, the doctor trotted out the old canard about getting everything you need from food. Given the amount of data about the degradation of the nutrient content of our food supply, this is laughable. Remember the recent study showing that fresh produce at the supermarket has the same nutrient content as frozen or canned produce? And, the fact that in the 1940s, government studies indicated that freezing reduced nutrient content by 98% and canning by 99%? Anti-oxidants are very sensitive to light, heat and oxidation. So, they are readily destroyed by our handling and storage procedures. So, where does that leave us? Back to choosing the right supplements for our personal needs via a customized blood chemistry panel.

And, what about garlic? The latest study being bandied about states unequivocally that garlic does not affect cholesterol levels. This study flies in the face of hundreds of other studies that demonstrate the value of garlic for a multitude of cardiovascular health factors, including: reduction of arterial plaque formation, reduction in LDL cholesterol, reduction in age-related increases in aortic stiffness, modest reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, platelet inhibition (i.e., a reduction in clot formation), increased fibrinolytic activity (again, reduced clot formation), and reduction in rancidity of the oils in the blood. Garlic has been called “phyto-HDL” and “herbal warfarin,” but without the side effects. So, why the dichotomy in the results? Here’s the story.

The problem with this most recent study is that the wrong forms of garlic were used. The study used three types of garlic: raw in sandwiches, garlic powder or powdered Kyolic, an aged garlic which is marketed as odor free. Why is this a problem? First of all, the active ingredient in garlic is the smell! So, obviously, the Kyolic product cannot be considered therapeutic. It is useless for any of the health benefits of garlic — anticoagulation, cholesterol effects and antibiotic effects.

The mechanism by which garlic produces effects impacts the other two forms of garlic chosen. Once garlic is crushed (chewed or powdered) it releases two chemical precursors that combine in an alkaline environment to produce the active substance. The alkaline environment in the digestive tract is the small intestine. The first stop when you swallow is the stomach, which is extremely acid; and the acid destroys the chemical precursors, essentially eradicating any therapeutic effect that garlic might offer. And, drying garlic to create powder, also damages the allicin.

What you need to know is that, in order for garlic to offer therapeutic effects, it must be in an enteric-coated tablet that dissolves in the small intestine. Any study done on other forms of garlic is destined for failure. Which, when you think of it, is very convenient if your goal is to discredit a natural agent in favor of expensive — and toxic — drugs. Since there is plenty of information about the correct form of garlic available in the literature, I can only conclude that the study design was deliberately chosen to achieve the desired result.

Third, the Fox News segment addressed the “safety” of estrogen therapy. The doctor was highlighting a study on transdermal estrogen therapy, i.e., patches. The point of the study was that transdermal delivery reduces the risk of strokes and blood clots. Hunh? Does everyone in the country suffer from memory loss? Or, do the commentators just assume we’re stupid?

The news about estrogen-replacement therapy (HRT) is that it is carcinogenic! All of the studies demonstrate that estrogen therapy increases the risk of breast cancer. And, this information has been available for years! Just consult my web site under “Health Conditions,” “Women’s Health” for a series of articles dating back to the 1990s about the risk of cancer with HRT. Yet, when I did a recent on-line research on this topic, all of the articles I found relating to estrogen therapy and cancer focussed only on endometrial cancer. Do you remember the drop in cancer rates in this country, particularly breast cancer over the last year? This was mostly due to women stopping HRT on their own. Many doctors are urging women to disregard the risk of cancer and continue HRT for its supposed “benefits.” And, the drug companies are funding many studies to find rationalizations for continued use of hormone prescriptions, because the loss of revenue is seriously affecting their bottom line.

There are many herbal, safe alternatives to menopausal symptoms. However, the protocol is individualized for each woman. If you want help, please call the Clinic and schedule a consultation to deal with menopause.

I would like to give you much of the more positive vitamin news that offsets this sort of propaganda; however, space is becoming a problem. So, let me just give you one example of important news that never made American headlines. The study was conducted in Canada and published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. It found that children born of mothers who took a daily multivitamin containing folic acid had a much lower risk of common childhood cancers. The statistics are as follows — a 47-per-cent lower risk for neuroblastoma (the most deadly form of childhood cancer), a 39-per-cent lower risk for leukemia (the most common form of pediatric cancer) and a 27-per-cent lower risk for other brain tumors,such as medulloblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumors. These results are extremely powerful, statistically. Why haven’t we seen them heralded in every newspaper in the land? What’s more important than reducing the risk of childhood cancers? But, I’m afraid positive news regarding vitamin supplementation doesn’t fit the media model.

I have first hand experience of the media bias from just last year. Remember the West Nile Virus scare, and my recommendations concerning Medi-Herb St. John’s Wort for both prevention and treatment? I prepared a press release, in an effort to disseminate what I considered to be vitally important information. We contacted several media outlets, and no one would put it on the air. Their reason? Nothing that was not AMA approved got air time! If that doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what does.

Other important information about the role of vitamin E taken prenatally to reduce the incidence of asthma in children and the benefits of fish oils in pregnancy can also be found on our web site or on my blog, Space prevents me from elaborating on them further in this letter.

So, what can you do? Become an educated consumer. Read every news article with a skeptic’s eye. Use my web site or blog, and others like them for analyses of “news articles.” And, take care of yourself and your family by obtaining a personalized, blood chemistry-based nutrition program from our clinic.

Does this apply to you? If so, see our information on Consultations.