Anyone who has covered medical research for a while knows how fraught it can be to report on vitamin supplements and “wonder” foods with antioxidants and other substances aside from FDA-regulated drugs.
Since the FDA does not regulate these products with the same guidelines and stringency as it does pharmaceuticals and medical devices, it can be harder to find solid data about them. Further, studies on them are frequently funded by supplement companies or food organizations with a vested interest in their effectiveness or benefits. In an additional complication, there’s a mythology surrounding vitamins that promotes two main ideas: the supplements almost always are beneficial, and even if they aren’t, can’t hurt anyway. Continue reading
In a continuation of his critique of the Huffington Post’s health coverage, Dr. Rahul Parikh chastises the online news outlet and Oprah Winfrey favorite Dr. Christiane Northrup for a story Northrup posted trumpeting the “paradigm shift” brought about by the “exciting new” findings of what seems to be a 2006 study that showed large doses of vitamin D might decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. She called the study “preventative medicine at its finest.”
Parikh notes that while the study cited by Northrup does appear to support her claims, it was an observational study inconsistent with later research. Furthermore, the doses of vitamin D given in the study were twice the recommended allowance, thus increasing the risk of kidney-and-bone-damaging overdoses.
Parikh also questions Northrup’s recommendation that women “can even visit a tanning salon that offers UVB tanning rays,” for reasons which should be all too obvious.
It’s put up or shut up time for Bayer Healthcare. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is threatening to sue the maker of One-A-Day multivitamins if the company doesn’t cease claiming that selenium, a mineral in the pills, may cut men’s risk of prostate cancer.
Researchers halted a federally funded study of selenium’s ability to protect against prostate cancer last year when the mineral showed no effect and some men taking it developed diabetes.
Yet Bayer claims in ads, including this Web site for its Men’s Health Formula multivitamin, that “emerging research suggests Selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.” Indeed, CPSI also asked the Federal Trade Commission to require Bayer to run corrective ads, given the impression made by at least 11 television ads and nine radio ads touting prostate protection.
A Bayer spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the company stands “behind all claims made in support of our products.”