The Case Against Big Pharma Science Grows Stronger
by Brandon Turbeville
In a recent anti-supplement propaganda article by NPR entitled “The Case Against Multi-Vitamins Grows Stronger,” the notorious “news” agency lavishly reported the alleged findings of “experts” proving that “vitamin supplements don’t help most people and can actually cause diseases that people are taking them to prevent, like cancer.” Immediately, the entire mainstream media machine jumped into action promoting the statements of the “experts” and claiming that the case is now closed regarding the effectiveness and safety of nutritional supplements.
Of course, what NPR, its fellow media outlets, and the authors of the editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine actually demonstrated was that the case against the mainstream media and Big Pharma funded science is growing stronger. This is because the cleverly worded editorial and the lapdog media repetition of these carefully crafted statements is nothing more than the annual attempt to demonize natural food supplements, organic food, and individuals who refuse to take toxic vaccines over hyped diseases.
Yet, before those who may be susceptible to trendy writing forms and flashy television presentations give in to the claims made by mainstream outlets, it is important to understand the fundamental flaws of both the reports being circulated to date as well as the editorial and studies being cited.
The first, and most obvious, flaw in this latest anti-supplement propaganda campaign is the fact that mainstream media outlets are citing an editorial, not a study. This is important for two reasons – one of which being the fact that so many who tend to claim such a respect for “science” usually demand to see “scientific studies” when confronted with claims surrounding benefits of supplements. However, in the case of claims regarding their ineffectiveness or their potential danger, a simple editorial seems to suffice. More importantly, the editorial makes much bolder claims than those made in the studies themselves.
Consider the statements made by the authors of the editorial when they state,
The large body of accumulated evidence has important public health and clinical implications. Evidence is sufficient to advise against routine supplementation, and we should translate null and negative findings into action. The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided. This message is especially true for the general population with no clear evidence of micronutrient deficiencies, who represent most supplement users in the United States and other countries.
If the evidence provided in the three studies referenced in the editorial are enough to convince these “experts” that vitamin supplements should be avoided, then these individuals are truly some of the most easily persuaded experts in the researching community. Indeed, to come to such wide-ranging conclusions with such little evidence is a talent more akin to acrobatics and magic than to science.
Second, the claim that the general population shows no evidence of micronutrient deficiencies is beyond absurd. From consumption of food products that are nutritionally deficient to even organic produce than is deficient in vital minerals due to soil mineral depletion, the fact is that this generation of Westerners is the most micronutrient deficient of all time (assuming adequate food availability).
Widespread micronutrient deficiencies have been known about since at least 1936 when a U.S. Senate Report was released addressing the depletion of the soil which it determined left 99% of Americans nutrient deficient.
Perhaps the authors of the editorial were ignorant of these and other related findings. Or, perhaps they were in ignorance of nutrition in general, much like the overwhelming majority of the pharmaceutical and medical-based community.
As for the studies themselves, the results are much less “sobering” than the authors of the editorial would have their readers believe.
For instance, in the study entitled “Oral High-Dose Multivitamins and Minerals After Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Trial,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the results were wholly unconvincing. This is because the stated objective of the study –“to assess whether oral multivitamins reduce cardiovascular events and are safe” – was never adequately achieved. Despite the researchers’ conclusions that “High-dose oral multivitamins and multiminerals did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events in patients after MI who received standard medications,” the authors of the study were forced to admit that “this conclusion is tempered by the nonadherence rate.” In addition, the researchers stated that “There was considerable nonadherence and withdrawal, limiting the ability to draw firm conclusions (particularly about safety).” Certainly this study was a far cry from the “evidence” cited by the overzealous editorial writers mentioned above.
The second study, entitled, “Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Function in Men: A Randomized Trial,” is almost as unconvincing as the first. The stated objective of the second study was “To evaluate whether long-term multivitamin supplementation affects cognitive health in later life.” The study was conducted by administering “composite score averaging 5 tests of global cognition, verbal memory, and category fluency. The secondary end point was a verbal memory score combining 4 tests of verbal memory, which is a strong predictor of Alzheimer disease.” The conclusions of the study were that “In male physicians aged 65 years or older, long-term use of a daily multivitamin did not provide cognitive benefits.”
It should be pointed out that the individuals used as test subjects were well-educated men who likely would have been familiar with the test administered to them, thus possibly skewing the test results in favor of no significant improvement as a result of the consumption of multi-vitamins due to the fact these individuals would likely have scored high on the tests regardless of their vitamin intake.
What is more telling, however, is the fact that the researchers admit that the doses of the multivitamins given to the test subjects were quite possibly much too low. In fact the researchers write that the limitations of the study are that “Doses of vitamins may be too low or the population may be too well-nourished to benefit from a multivitamin.”
The former is, of course, the most likely limitation, since Recommended Daily Allowance levels are set so low that, even if one takes 100% of the recommended daily dosage, that individual is consuming a level of nutrition that is vastly lower than that which is needed for optimum health.
Interestingly enough, this study was not only funded by the National Institutes of Health but also by DSM Nutritional Products, Pfizer, and BASF. Pfizer and BASF, two multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers are widely known as organizations that are hostile toward the sale and manufacture of nutritional products as well as corporations that would stand to gain by an increase in poor health and medical treatment. DSM Nutritional Products, while lesser known, is a multinational chemical company that also manufactures nutritional supplements of thesynthetic variety. DSM is a corporate colleague of Cargill and has worked closely with the UN-based World Food Programme.
The third study is, as one may suspect, no more convincing than the other two. The purpose of this research, published under the title of, Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: An Updated Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, was “To systematically review evidence for the benefit and harms of vitamin and mineral supplements in community-dwelling, nutrient-sufficient adults for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.” Yet, while the study found “limited evidence” to support “any benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation for the prevention of cancer or CVD. Two trials found a small, borderline-significant benefit from multivitamin supplements on cancer in men only and no effect on CVD.” Thus, while the study does not provide significant evidence of benefit from supplementation in these cases, it finds no harm.
Even more important, however, are the limitations to the study itself. First, the study was conducted on “adults without known nutritional deficiencies,” which begs the question “Why would anyone who was not deficient in nutrients need to take nutritional supplements to begin with?” Yet, with the knowledge that most individuals are indeed nutrient deficient (except perhaps in the eyes of modern medical practitioners and Big Pharma representatives), it is not reasonable to believe that these test subjects were indeed without such deficiencies, particularly since the levels of nutrition and nutritional intake are set so low in the medical community standards.
But what stands out even more is the fact that the study was “conducted in older individuals and included various supplements and doses under the set upper tolerable limits.” Conducting such studies in older individuals would likely reduce the amount of success for the supplementation to begin with. However, what is most significant about the study is the dose level which is, according to the researchers themselves, “under the set upper tolerable limits.” As I have written on numerous other occasions, Upper Tolerable Limits are themselves set at unreasonably low levels, generally at those which are just above the onset of a nutrition-deficiency disease. Indeed, to administer doses of nutritional supplements below these numbers is to render the supplement virtually useless.
In this study, there is little wonder as to why the supplements produced such insignificant results. This, however, is the fault of the researcher, not the supplement.
Still, it should be pointed out, that, even in such small doses, multi-vitamins did produce a “borderline-significant” effect on cancer in men.
Also at issue is the test material being administered – most likely (as reported by other sources) synthetic, low-grade supplements. The contrast between food-based supplements and their synthetic forms is stark. For instance, Vitamin E, in its natural form, combats aging, reduces stress, and has a therapeutic and healing effect on a wide variety of conditions. Its synthetic form, however, is derived from petrochemicals and is known to disrupt the endocrine system. Comparing mass-produced and generally-accepted-as-safe brands which are often owned by major Pharmaceutical companies themselves to food-based natural forms of vitamins and minerals is comparing apples to oranges, or, to use less hyperbole and more accuracy, apples to rotten apples.
This is precisely one of the reasons that Anthony Gucciardi of Natural Society wrote in his article “Why Many Vitamin Studies are Absolutely Worthless,” back in 2011, that “The truth of the matter is that many — if not most — of vitamin studies are completely worthless, as they use isolated synthetic vitamins or low quality multivitamin supplements loaded with toxic fillers and synthetic ingredients.”
Indeed, he goes on to say,
Study authors could use high quality food-based multivitamins without any fillers or harmful ingredients, but they generally do not. Whether this is due to nutritional ignorance regarding the true nature of the pharmaceutical company-dominated supplement industry (think highly-popular Centrum, which we will soon discuss) or the fact that these researchers truly think that essential nutrients are damaging to your health, the fact of the matter is that very few studies utilize the right form of vitamins.
There is a large difference between synthetic and natural vitamins, and there is a large difference between high quality and low quality supplements. Ideally you want to avoid fillers, synthetic ingredients, and toxic additives.
The result of all of these studies using low quality supplements is simple: bad press on vitamins as a whole, as the authors fail to correctly distinguish the difference between low quality and high quality supplements. As a response, people are scared to take legitimately healthy multivitamins or health supplements, or think that all vitamins are the same or threaten their health with products like Centrum.
Centrum, it should be noted, is owned and produced by Pfizer, one of the firms that funded two of the studies mentioned above.
“Even if it isn’t Centrum,” Gucciardi writes, “the vast majority of multivitamin supplements contain synthetic ingredients, toxic fillers, and other unwanted ingredients.”
Regardless, the recent volley of studies released by the Annals of Internal Medicine – all conveniently at the same time – simply marks the annual propaganda narrative against natural supplements and organic food.
Every year, Americans begin the new year with resolutions, most of which surround health and weight loss. Thus, Big Pharma and its associates target the general public toward the end of the year so that any plans for greater intake of natural nutritional supplements which actually work and a greater consumption of organic or locally produced foods is completely derailed before it even begins. Like the official “authorized” narratives on virtually every issue, one can only hope that the general public has grown more wary of propaganda assaults launched by mainstream outlets, governments, and big corporations.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.