Dr Byers, supplements and increased cancer risk – Same turgid old stuff.

It seems every five years or so, someone is appointed to jump up and warn us all about Vitamin Supplements and their dangers.

This time Dr Byers got the short straw.

The problem is that we’ve heard it all before, the same research, the same generalisations – and we know the answer.

Out comes the same one-off research study (following an indicative study) on beta-carotene and smoking. Then there is research on vitamin E which has little benefit and may even do harm.

Neither supplement would I touch anyway. Both mass market supplements in the main are deficient, synthetic copies of the real thing. In nature beta-carotene is available in cis- and trans- forms, but only one is used in the common supplement. Vitamin E is worse. Most studies involve synthetic alpha-tocopherol, just one of the eight variants found in nature. In my book it should not even be called vitamin E (it’s fraud).

Synthetic vitamins, for me, carry the same basic risks as synthetic drugs. Natural vitamin E is easy to come by. Put out a bowl of nuts and seeds – a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds will give you the four tocotrienol vitamin Es – shown to be much better than tocopherol in fighting cancer anyway.

Folate supplementation is, quite possibly, a threat to all these highly profitable cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which are under soooo much pressure at the moment from leading heart specialists. They have been linked to a range of secondary illnesses from diabetes to eye sight problems; and research is now questioning whether they do lower death rates from heart attacks and strokes.

Folate, again, is a vitamin you should get from your diet – eat your greens!!!! If you are short you are in trouble. If you have a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria) and eat properly you will be fine; too much you might be in trouble. It has an RDA in ‘micrograms’ for that reason.

But what I love is the way the ‘research’ extrapolates a study on synthetic beta-carotene and smoking to warn the listeners on supplements in general. It would be like me saying that since one drug, Vioxx, killed 48,000 Americans and is now banned, people should be careful when using any drugs because their benefits are questionable and there is clear evidence of significant risks.

Mass market vitamin supplements have limited benefits, although Centrum produced a study a couple of years back showing their multivitamin reduced cancer risk by 7 per cent – this would extrapolate to 22,000 less people with cancer in the UK alone next year. In 2003, the French produced the Su Vi Max study which had followed 17,000 people on selenium and zinc, vitamins E and C and beta-carotene – that showed 31% fewer male cancers (but little change for women); and 37% less deaths overall from cancer over the study period.

I am much more interested in bioactive natural compounds such as vitamin D, curcumin, fish oils, sulforaphanes, CLA, MCP and another 60 with Epigenetic benefits. Now they are interesting. Even Dr Young S. Kim of the NCI in her research on foods that could stop cancer stem cells re-growing, said these could be taken as quality supplements.

Ok. It’s diary time. Which doctor, or preferably professor wants to author this same study on the risks of supplements in 2020?

I’ll have this Junk Science article ready to re-run then too.

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Stop Drugs Killing People for Profits!

It’s been a torrid couple of years for the drugs companies. For example, there was the Vioxx scandal, where an estimated 47,000 people lost their lives thanks to a drug; then in certain American states ‘polypharmacy’ (taking a cocktail of legally prescribed medicines) actually topped the ‘Cause of death’ charts above cancer and heart disease; next there was the revelation that in the New York Presbyterian Hospital 28 per cent of hospital admissions concerned older people falling ill from their drug cocktails; this comes hot on the heels of a seven-fold increase in deaths from taking cocktails of prescribed medicines with high profile stars like Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson included; then there was the report from the Poison Control Centers about the high levels of deaths from prescribed medicines (but interestingly none from taking vitamins or herbs) and recently we have had the $3 billion payment by Glaxo Smith Klein for various fraudulent practices, where the lawmakers attention was drawn by ‘whistleblowers’ who used to work for the company. Next up it could be Merck facing a similar scenario.

 Phew!

But do we have figures on deaths from Polypharmacy in the UK and Europe? Or large fines for similar fraudulent practices by drugs companies in the UK and Europe? Indeed, do we have the same level of vigilance? Surely these ‘dodgy’ practices, and levels of illnesses caused by drugs cannot be confined to America?

But there’s a bigger point: When do the pharmaceutical companies start putting people before profits and rather dubious and fraudulent practices? When do we get more responsible commentary – homeopathy is criticised by UK Skeptics in articles because as one claimed… “it wastes 4 million pounds that could be spent on safe and proven drugs”. Er…. Safe, by whose standards? Not the standards of Vioxx or Thalidomide, or even those of the thousands of people falling ill and dying from cocktails of drugs that have never been tested in such combinations with each other, surely?

While 10 billion dollars have been paid by drugs companies in ‘fines’ in the USA in recent years, nothing has yet happened in a similar vein in Europe or the UK. But we all use the same ‘safe and proven’ drugs.

 Avaaz is the world’s largest and most effective online campaigning community for change and they have launched a petition to try and establish some of the American controls in the UK and Europe. Read more, and sign the petition at:  https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Drug_Companies_Killing_for_Profits/?aqvhhab

 As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.’ Now’s the time to look at drugs and pharmaceutical company practices in Europe and do something about it!

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