Scaring Americans from Taking Dietary Supplements
by Tom Petrie, July 3, 2016
So what else is new? A December 17, 2013 article in USA Today had this article: Medical Journal ‘Case Closed’ Against Vitamin Supplements.
Sounds pretty definitive, doesn’t it? Well sure it does, but upon closer examination, we learn that it’s not convincing at all. Let’s explain why.
As with all critiques, the first thing we have to do is look at the source: USA Today. They are a daily, national newspaper, and not a scientific journal. Secondly, we need to look at the source they cite: a “Medical Journal.” Since when are medical journals authorities on vitamins?
Medical journals sell lots of advertising space to drug companies, not vitamin companies, therefore, we have to be careful who they’re trying to not criticize and from what they might be distracting us! According to Gary Null (author of the documentary and article “Death by Medicine” in 1994), legally prescribed prescription drugs kill over 100,000 people each year in America. And vitamin deaths? Not ONE in the past 30 years.
So where’s the big expose of the dangers of modern medicine? Sure, there’s the occasional critique of the overuse of antibiotics or the dangers of overusing or abusing prescription pain medications, but there’s little on the dangers of drugs even when taken as prescribed. Well, unless you’re a drug linked to 60,000 deaths from heart disease, as was Vioxx, 12 years ago! Only after the deaths became hard to conceal, did the FDA finally remove Vioxx from the market.
So back to our article referenced by USA Today and covered in many major newspapers that week.
The study was an “observational study”
The study was an “observational study”—in other words, an historical “survey” of what women took over the previous years, taken from memory! The researchers surveyed 38,772 women from the Iowa Women’s Health Study (IWHS) about their vitamin supplement habits over 18 years in 6 year intervals.
In short, these kinds of surveys are notoriously inaccurate, although this is not to discount their value entirely.[i] One can do studies of this sort checking one data point or another but when ten or twenty data points are being surveyed at such extreme intervals, and then “adjusted” according to ten or so individual variables, we no longer have a valid study in this authors opinion. In short, we should be cautious about accepting any of the study’s shocking conclusions based upon just this one fact. But there’s more!
WHAT KIND OF VITAMINS WERE TAKEN?
WHAT BRANDS? WHAT POTENCIES WERE USED?
In addition to these stated flaws, there was no review of brands used, the amount of supplements or potencies taken by brand or concern about “total intake” (e.g., micrograms, milligrams or grams taken for any given nutrient). Blood levels of various nutrients were not taken and the consistency of use wasn’t measured in any way. And who reading this article hasn’t changed from one supplement to another over the years? Who hasn’t added or subtracted supplements over time? Does anyone believe that individuals took the same supplements, brands, potencies and combinations of supplements during an 18-year study period? There was also no analysis of the almost infinite combinations of supplements taken, nor was there any analysis of the cause of death beyond “cancer,” “heart disease,” or “other.”
Also, the kinds of vitamins that were taken was not evaluated. In other words, we do not know if the vitamins were natural or synthetic, balanced or unbalanced, filled with additives and chemical preservatives or not. (The number ONE multi-vitamin in America is Centrum—hardly an example of a balanced and natural multi-vitamin!)
As if the aforementioned flaws were not enough to prove the worthlessness of the data, the data was further adjusted for age, place of residence, body mass index, athletic activity, age, tobacco use, food intake, blood pressure and use of hormone replacement therapy. Keep in mind that phrases like “multi-variate analysis” sound authoritative, but really hide the fact that numerous adjustments were made to the data that could compromise the integrity of the study. As if these “adjustments” weren’t bad enough, a second multi-variable analysis was undertaken which included many of the aforementioned items in addition to ‘adjusting’ for the consumption of alcohol, saturated fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables! Yes!—they “adjusted” for one’s consumption of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables!
People Often Take Dietary Supplements
After They Get Sick but not before!
It is a fact that most common diseases are preventable, yet many people don’t engage in healthier lifestyle choices until after they become seriously ill with heart disease, cancer or some other degenerative disease or condition.
The classic example is an individual who never swallowed a single dietary supplement until they’re diagnosed with cancer. They then go from zero or low intakes of dietary supplements to swallowing 30 or more pills per day in what, too often, is a futile attempt to cure an advanced-stage cancer. Having worked for almost eight years at The Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine, (Suffern, NY until Sept. of 2014), I can attest to this fact: Many cancer patients came to this center in very poor health after having exhausted conventional medicine as their first treatment choice. So YES, very sick patients often load up on vitamins in an effort to get some positive results—positive results, by the way, that WERE NOT , apparently, forthcoming by their conventional treatment plan, for whatever reasons. (This is NOT meant to denigrate conventional treatment approaches to cancer—although they deserve criticism, as such patients often come to their illnesses after years of neglect of their own health and well-being!)
In the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the authors admitted they did not factor in the increased intake of dietary supplements that occur in response to the development of symptoms or diagnosis of serious disease! Stated differently: If a woman was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and began ingesting 30 vitamin pills daily, but died six months later, she would have been counted as being a heavy supplement user who died prematurely!
How could this flaw play-out in the real world? A person with a serious ailment who could benefit from a smartly chosen dietary supplement program, might be discouraged from taking ANY supplements, because of his reading of “how bad” supplements are, in his local newspaper such as the USA Today article noted at the beginning of this post.
This flaw by itself could render the overall findings of the Iowa Women’s Health Study meaningless because much of the lay public today associates dietary supplements as something very important to initiate after serious disease appears. Yet, instead of initiating a smartly chosen supplement program, they might decide to “not bother” taking anything! It is sad, but this is the result of what happens when the average consumer who is not that “nutrition savvy,” reads one of those sensational anti-vitamin headlines in their local paper or hears a similar message on their evening news. It’s also clearly a result that occurs when lazy reporters decide to take the conclusions of a biased medical journal without any careful analysis or study.
It’s also very consistent with efforts to ban dietary supplements to make way for “Codex-Alimentaris.” Codex Alimentaris is an effort to ban ALL dietary supplements that have more than 150 percent of the US RDA, or a similar standard. In order for this act to be passed, extremely negative articles that vilify dietary supplements are therefore, ‘necessary,’ from time to time, to soften up the public, to get the public behind what is really a sick and devious effort to discourage Americans from taking dietary supplements, to consequently help to make Americans sicker and of course, to increase the profits of the pharmaceutical companies. This is the REAL motivation, in this writer’s opinion.
Findings of Reduced Mortality Overlooked by Media
Initially, The Iowa Women’s Health Study showed that women who supplemented with vitamins C, D, E and calcium had significantly lower risks of mortality. However, as noted earlier, the study authors then made multiple adjustments to their data to conclude that multivitamin/mineral supplementation could increase mortality. How did these “multi-variable adjusted proportional hazards regression models” play out in real life? What does this mean in plain English? That the study authors could take the study data and endlessly massage it until they got more negative or more positive results is certainly horrible, but the results to public health is where the significant negative consequences lie.
Because of the negative results fly so diametrically opposite to other studies on vitamins, this study supports my claim of there being extreme bias against the health benefits of dietary supplements by the study’s authors. This bias was further indicated by a glaring omission by the study’s authors: The positive findings of a European study published in July of 2011.
In this study, mortality from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all-causes was substantially lower in those taking vitamin and mineral dietary supplements. This European study indicated that long-term users of antioxidant vitamin supplements had a 48 percent reduced risk of cancer mortality and 42 percent lower all-cause mortality.[ii] What is still shocking about this positive data is that supplement takers who reported at least 25 percent compliance, in other words if they took their supplements at least 5 out of 20 days, would be considered in “full compliance.” Despite this fact, they achieved the dramatic positive results just mentioned. Did you read of THIS study in USA Today? Did you read of it in another major media outlet or have you read about the dangers of vitamins in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times or Time Magazine? Let me know by responding to this post.
Now let’s consider another positive vitamin study from the University of California at Berkeley. In this study, Dr. Block and his colleagues, looked at the health benefits of dietary supplements.[iii] Entitled “Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study,” the participants showed significant health benefits from dietary supplement use versus those who did not use such supplements. However, this study was NOT based upon reports or surveys that were filled out every six years. Instead, they actually TESTED people.
Let’s quote the conclusion of this study in its entirety:
This group of long-term multiple dietary supplement users consumed a broad array of vitamin/mineral, herbal, and condition-specific dietary supplements on a daily basis. They were more likely to have optimal concentrations of chronic disease-related biomarkers, and less likely to have suboptimal blood nutrient concentrations, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes compared to non-users and multivitamin/mineral users. These findings should be confirmed by studying the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of other groups of heavy users of dietary supplements.
- Nutrition Journal, Oct., 2007
THE CREDIBILITY OF THE SOURCE
The journal that published this “study” is owned by the American Medical Association, which is not always the most objective source of information on vitamins. By the way, they receive a substantial source of their revenue from the sale of advertising space from hugely profitable pharmaceutical companies. Needless to say, vitamin advertisements are rarely, if ever seen on their pages, as is true for most other conventional medical publications.
What’s even more troubling about these facts is the fact that the AMA is a criminal enterprise. You wouldn’t know this from a review of the mainstream media over the previous eight decades, but it’s true. In the past, the American medical establishment—lead by the American Medical Association—has fought battles to limit the practices of many “alternative” medical practices and these have included naturopaths, osteopaths, podiatrists, optometrists, psychologists and chiropractors.[iv] In other words, the AMA has been working tirelessly to limit the acceptance of ALL “alternative” medical treatments not sanctioned by them. What would be the ACCEPTED treatments? This would be CAT scans, mammograms, pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions, but do NOT involve non-toxic and fairly inexpensive treatments, dietary supplements or herbal remedies. Such treatments kill or allow to die, over 400,000 Americans EACH year and the media doesn’t so much as raise a peep.
Let’s review the history of the AMA’s efforts to squelch just one ‘alternative’ therapy, namely chiropractic. This effort took off under the guidance of AMA’s secretary from 1924 to 1949, Dr. Morris Fishbein. It was during his 25 year reign that a major anti-chiropractic campaign was launched. His words weren’t that scientific, as he referred to chiropractic as an “unscientific cult” and that “they cared for nothing but getting their patients’ money.”
While Fishbein left in 1949, the campaign against chiropractic continued unabated. In 1963, during a meeting of the AMA Board of Trustees, a committee on Quackery was created.[v] This committee’s prime mission was “The containment of chiropractic and ultimately, the elimination of chiropractic.” For those who might not be aware of this fact, the word “quackery” was created at the turn of the 19th century to denigrate ANY one or ANY profession that did not teach conventional medicine. The word is meant to convey, “nonsense,” “non-scientific” or “worthless.” While the use of the word quackery is sometimes appropriate, its use is often-times meant to simply shortcut any honest discussion of certain treatments. These are often treatments that special interests would rather you avoid using entirely, not because they don’t work,” but because they “work too well!” “A quack remedy? Why would anyone want to take such a thing,” would go our thinking upon learning that a certain proposed treatment is “quackery.” But don’t be misled! The use of language to mislead folks has been going on for the past century.
The medical profession has a long history of opposing alternative healing professions. While always claiming public safety as its reasons for the attacks, the true reasons involve protecting their monopoly of the health care market.
– Dr. Robert Grisanti, D.C., The AMA Conspiracy Against Chiropractic[vi]
The first annual report from the Board of the Committee on Quackery of the AMA stated “the involvement (and indoctrination) of the State Medical Society leadership, in our opinion, is vital to the success of the chiropractic program. We hope and believe that, with continued aggressive AMA activity, chiropractic can and will be contained at the national level and that steps are being taken to stop or eliminate the licensure of chiropractic at the state level.”
In 1967, the Committee on Quackery explained their anti-chiropractic goals as follows:
“Basically, the Committee’s short-range objectives for containing the cult of chiropractic and any additional recognition it might achieve revolves around four key points:
- Doing everything within our power to see that chiropractic coverage under title 18 of the Medicare law is not obtained;
- Doing everything within our power to see that the recognition or listing by the U.S. Office of Education of a chiropractic accrediting agency is not achieved;
- To encourage contained separation of the two national chiropractic associations and
- To encourage state medical societies to take the initiative in their state legislatures in regards to legislation that might affect the practice of chiropractic.”
So now you learn that during all those years during which time there were specific “forces” behind the years of anti-chiropractic legislation and various anti-chiropractic efforts, it was all propaganda developed by the American Medical Association. Its goal was to see that there was limited acceptance of the science of chiropractic. As this campaign continued, the AMA distributed propaganda to the nation’s teachers and guidance counselors, eliminated the inclusion of chiropractic from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Health Careers Guidebook and made sure that the educational guidelines in medical schools included notices regarding the “hazards to individuals from the unscientific cult of chiropractic.” There were many other measures taken, but in short, the AMA worked both politically and publicly against the chiropractic profession all the while it, nevertheless, gained increased acceptance as a medical subspecialty. Why was this? It was because chiropractic achieved substantial results in so many millions of patients where the AMA’s methods had failed.
It is a fact that any organization that tries to limit the ability of another organization to perform commercially, in the interests of their profession, is committing a crime, is likely breaking the law. On this issue, the Supreme Court has agreed. (It was in 1975 that the Supreme Court ruled that professions are NOT exempt from anti-trust law suits.[vii])
In 1979, Pennsylvania and New York, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether or not the AMA could interfere with the chiropractic profession as they apparently had been doing in so large a way for the previous seven decades. In anticipation of this pending ruling, the AMA’s code of ethics was modified. (Before this time, medical doctors were prohibited from associating with chiropractors. In other words, they could not refer patients to chiropractors and were not allowed to accept patients from chiropractors either.) And in 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can enforce anti-trust laws against medical societies.
Finally, in September of 1987, Judge Susan Getzendanner found the American Medical Association and others GUILTY of an illegal conspiracy against the chiropractic profession! She also issued an injunction against the AMA and forced them to print the courts findings in their journal. Despite appeals against the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990, the original decision was upheld.
The take home message from this brief story is that the American Medical Association was found by the highest court in the land to have been operating a criminal enterprise. At one time, they had 70 individuals, working full-time, to dismantle one subspecialty of medicine (or alternative medicine, if you like), namely, that of chiropractic medicine. These efforts were not ultimately successful, but they did cause huge grief for this profession from 1924 to 1990. The damage to the public-at-large is hard to fathom, as there are other professions that could provide similar benefits, but it is not known how many Americans suffered or died seeking help from conventional medical providers, and received harm or died, when what they needed was chiropractic care. It’s simply impossible to answer this question.
It is against this backdrop that we need to question the credibility of the American Medical Association, which publishes the Archives of Internal Medicine. We’ve already established that this agency works in a medical system that “supervises” or “allows” the deaths of approximately 780,000 Americans each year.[viii] So the style of medicine they sanction and support through the medical schools, journals and newspaper articles causes huge disability and death while virtually no one ever dies from a dietary supplement. So why must we constantly hear or read about how bad dietary supplements are?
- The authors started their study by claiming that they didn’t expect supplements to add to years of life to the study participants, indicating their bias from the beginning.
- If a study surveys users of vitamins EVERY SIX YEARS, one cannot expect accurate results!
- The kinds, amounts, quality and brands of supplements weren’t factored into the equation.
- Numerous “adjustments” were made to the data, further obscuring benefits from risks. People often take dietary supplements AFTER they get sick, not before. Therefore their death from cancer (or from their medically accepted “treatments”), should be factored into the equation. This fact was, instead, entirely ignored.
- The study authors did NOT control for prescription or over-the-counter drug use, an enormous error. Recall how it was mentioned earlier that there is a minimum of 100,000 deaths from prescription drugs each year in America.
- The credibility of the source is without question abysmal. If an organization is found to be actively trying to hinder the practice of not only chiropractic, but other “alternative” medical professions—obviously in an attempt to maintain their monopoly position over “health care” in this country, we can’t accept that they have “our interests” at heart when they sponsor or support a “vitamin study.” This is but a brief summary of why we should NOT put much attention on negative vitamin articles, such as the one from USA Today that was addressed—in detail—in this post.
[i] “Mike Adams interviews Dr. David Brownstein about media hoax to kill vitamins, Info Wars Nightly News.” Excellent interview about the flaws of “Observational Studies,” viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiFl-H7Uyew .
[ii] K. Li, R. Kaaks, J. Linseisen, S. Rohrmann, “Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality in a German prospective cohort (EPIC-Heidelberg)” European Journal of Nutrition Online version, published ahead of print, July, 2011; To view this study online, go to Dr. Pressman, Tools for Healthy Living at: http://www.drpressman.com/antioxidant-vitamins-may-cut-mortality-risk-epic-data
[iii] Block, Gladys, Jensen, Christopher D, et. al; Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study, Nutrition Journal, Vol. 6:30, Oct., 2007. For a link to this article, go here: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-6-30.pdf
[iv] Food Matters, a documentary film by James and Laurentine, http://www.foodmatters.tv.
[v] International Wellness Directory, The History of Quackery, Online article: www.mnwelldir.org/docs/history/quackery.htm
[vi] Your Medical Detective, Online Newsletter, Sequoia Educational Systems, AMA Conspiracy Against Chiropractic, 2010: http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/public/237.cfm
[vii] Goldfarb, et ux. v Virginia State Barm et. al, Supreme Court Decision, 1975. GOLDFARB v. VIRGINIA STATE BAR, 4th circuit, 421 U.S. 773 (1975)
[viii] See the award winning Documentary “Death by Medicine” by Gary Null, Ph.D., 2011.
 “Mike Adams interviews Dr. David Brownstein about media hoax to kill vitamins, Info Wars Nightly News.” Excellent interview about the flaws of “Observational Studies,” viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiFl-H7Uyew .
 K. Li, R. Kaaks, J. Linseisen, S. Rohrmann, “Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality in a German prospective cohort (EPIC-Heidelberg)” European Journal of Nutrition Online version, published ahead of print, July, 2011; To view this study online, go to Dr. Pressman, Tools for Healthy Living at: http://www.drpressman.com/antioxidant-vitamins-may-cut-mortality-risk-epic-data
 Block, Gladys, Jensen, Christopher D, et. al; Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study, Nutrition Journal, Vol. 6:30, Oct., 2007. For a link to this article, go here: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-6-30.pdf
 Food Matters, a documentary film by James and Laurentine, http://www.foodmatters.tv.
 International Wellness Directory, The History of Quackery, Online article: www.mnwelldir.org/docs/history/quackery.htm
 Your Medical Detective, Online Newsletter, Sequoia Educational Systems, AMA Conspiracy Against Chiropractic, 2010: http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/public/237.cfm
 Goldfarb, et ux. v Virginia State Barm et. al, Supreme Court Decision, 1975. GOLDFARB v. VIRGINIA STATE BAR, 4th circuit, 421 U.S. 773 (1975)
 See the award winning Documentary “Death by Medicine” by Gary Null, Ph.D., 2011.