story. The Archives of Internal Medicine, which is run by the American
Medical Association, runs an article suggesting that supplement
use might shorten your life. It creates a media feeding frenzy.
This is only
the latest in a string of such articles from the AMA.
is that this study, like it’s predecessors, is junk science at its
worst. The women in the study were asked every 6 years what they
had taken. They were supposed to remember what they had taken for
the 6-year period. The reports did not have to be specific: multivitamin
could mean anything. Who knows what was taken or even if it was
Those who reported
taking multi-vitamins were found over time to be healthier on average
than others. But the authors of the study, who clearly had an anti-supplement
agenda, made "adjustments" which attributed the good health
to other factors so they could conclude that supplements actually
made these healthier than average people unhealthy. Even after the
"adjustment", the statistical evidence was weak to non-existant,
but that didn’t prevent media from all over the world reporting
that supplements can hasten your death.
What is behind
this? We know that the AMA worries about competition for its brand
of medicine which focuses almost exclusively on conventional drugs
and surgery. It is especially worried about competition from "integrated"
doctors who include advice about food, supplements, and exercise
in their practice. The AMA and its affiliates also have a tight
relationship with drug companies, which includes financial support.
Both the AMA and drug companies have an incentive to try to trash
supplements and those giving advice on supplements.
How does the
media fit into this? The major media are almost entirely dependent
for survival on drug company advertising. Without drug company advertising,
most of the companies, already financially hard pressed, would face
potential bankruptcy. So it isn’t surprising, although it is disappointing,
that the major media would pick up something like the phony Archives
of Internal Medicine study and make even phonier headlines out
Are all supplements
safe? Of course not. The World Health Organization recently recommended
that governments put extra calcium in the public water supply. This
is a very bad idea. Genuine medical research suggests that calcium
should be taken with important co-factors such as vitamin D and
K2. These help get the calcium into the bones, where it is needed,
and keep it out of the heart and circulatory system.
As in anything
else, good information and common sense are needed to make the best
use of supplements. But don’t expect to get either from the crony
capitalists at the AMA and in the major media.
with permission from Against
October 14, 2011