If you’ve been reading the mainstream media recently, you might have come to the conclusion that vitamins are the most dangerous things you could possibly consume. Headlines declare antioxidants to be useless, vitamin C to be dangerous and vitamin E to be deadly! Nutrition, it seems, is suddenly under attack.
But what’s really behind these scare tactics? Is there any real science behind the headlines?
To answer this question, consider the most recent example: a large antioxidant study (vitamins E and C) in women. A nine-year study followed more than 8,000 women to determine the effects of antioxidants in preventing heart disease. The study found a significant reduction in stroke (31 percent) and heart attacks (22 percent) among those women who actually took the vitamins. But if you consider all the women who originally signed up for the study — including those thousands who never took the vitamins — it turns out the results show nothing substantial.
Of course you’re not going to see positive results in women who didn’t take the vitamins. Nor would you see results from anything else (a drug, an herb, etc.) if the women didn’t actually take that substance. And yet the mass media stories about the study all declare antioxidants to be useless because they are considering the measured results of all the women, including those who didn’t take the antioxidants. It’s like taking a hundred cars that ran out of gas, filling up 40 of them with gasoline, then declaring that gasoline doesn’t make cars run because 60 of them are still on empty.
It sounds absurd, I know, but it’s only the beginning of this story. Time after time, medical researchers and the mainstream media seem to go out of their way to distort scientific studies and misinform readers about the usefulness of vitamins and dietary supplements.
Another study publicized last year declared that vitamin E was deadly and would kill you with heart attacks and strokes. This particular meta-data analysis was based on synthetic vitamin E (a completely unnatural chemical made from petroleum derivatives), not the vitamin E that appears in nature. Furthermore, many of the study subjects were elderly patients already suffering from heart disease, putting them at high risk for heart attacks from day one. When these patients started to die during the study, researchers declared, “The vitamin E killed them!”
Researchers also went to great lengths to cherry-pick studies that showed negative results for vitamin E, tossing out all the studies that showed positive results. This kind of subjective inclusion of clinical trials in a meta analysis is a classic sign of scientific fraud.
I know what you’re thinking: Researchers are smarter than that. They wouldn’t be so foolish as to count the results of people who didn’t take the vitamins or give supplements to the near-dead and blame their deaths on the supplements. But you might be assuming these researchers are operating with ethics in the first place — and experience tells us they’re not.
Many receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants offered to them by drug companies. Their primary research (and revenue source) involves studying the effects of pharmaceuticals. Researchers who don’t consistently “discover” positive effects for pharmaceuticals are eventually blackballed from the industry and find themselves jobless and unemployable. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure applied to researchers to make sure they uncover findings that support the financial interests of the drug companies. Eighty percent of all clinical trials funded by drug companies produce results that are favorable to the financial interests of those companies.
Similarly, there is also a lot of pressure to find something wrong with dietary supplements, herbs and nutrition — precisely because such substances compete with pharmaceuticals. The more consumers take nutritional supplements, the less they need pharmaceuticals because nutrition actually prevents disease. So one of the key ways to ensure a strong future market for pharmaceuticals is to discredit nutritional supplements and make people believe they’re somehow dangerous.
This is all quite laughable, given that prescription drugs are now the 4th leading cause of death in America. FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are killing at least 100,000 Americans a year right now. Dr. David Graham, a senior FDA drug safety researcher, reported that just one diabetes drug recently scrutinized for its health effects has likely killed more than 80,000 Americans! That’s more Americans than died in the entire Vietnam War, and this is from but one drug.
Almost nothing is killing Americans faster than prescription drugs, not terrorists, not war, not chemicals in the food, car accidents or drunk driving. Pharmaceuticals are so universally dangerous to the health and safety of Americans that if they were herbs, they would have been outlawed years ago.
And yet vitamins have killed no one. No one ever died from taking natural vitamin E, eating superfoods or ingesting vitamin-rich berries. In fact, nutritional supplements and superfoods greatly enhance human health, protect you from disease and greatly reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity and many other common diseases.
It is a curious sign of the times that the mainstream media, which receives billions of dollars in advertising from drug companies, now finds itself in the business of misinforming Americans, trying to convince them that day is night, up is down, nutrition is dangerous, war is peace, ignorance is strength and freedom is tyranny. It’s right out George Orwell’s classic, 1984.
So don’t be suckered by the headlines. Be a skeptical thinker, and consider who’s funding these skewed studies that somehow keep inventing dangers associated with herbs or dietary supplements.
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