There is a spin to most media reporting on vitamin research. The recent anti-vitamin media blitz, led by the Associated Press and USA Today, provides yet another demonstration. (Vitamins C and E don't prevent heart disease. The Associated Press, Nov. 9, 2008. Also: USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-11-09-suppl...
) With a paternalistic pat on the head, the media once again seeks to send you off to play with the reassurance that, well, vitamin therapy HAS been tested, and it just does not work.
Nonsense. Thousands upon thousands of nutritional research studies provide evidence that vitamins do help prevent and treat serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease, when the nutrients are supplied in sufficiently high doses. High doses are required. Low doses fail. Says cardiologist Thomas Levy, M.D.: "The three most important considerations in effective vitamin C therapy are dose, dose, and dose. If you don't take enough, you won't get the desired effects."
Effective doses are high doses, often hundreds of times more than the US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Daily Reference Intake (DRI). Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., comments: "Drs. Wilfrid Shute and Evan Shute recommended doses from 400 IU to 8,000 IU of vitamin E daily. The usual dose range was 800 to 1600 IU but they report that they had given 8,000 IU without seeing any toxicity." The Shutes successfully treated over 35,000 patients with vitamin E.
All the recent, much touted JAMA study does is confirm what we already know: low doses do not work. The doses given were 400 IU of vitamin E every OTHER day and 500 milligrams of vitamin C/day. Try that same study with 2,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin E every other day (1,000 to 2,000 IU/day) and 15,000-30,000 mg/day of vitamin C and the difference would be unmistakable. We know this because investigators using vitamins E and C in high doses have consistently reported success.
Low doses do not get clinical results. Any physician, nurse, or parent knows that a dose of antibiotics that is one tenth, or one-hundredth, of the known effective dose will not work. Indeed, it is a cornerstone of medical science that dose affects outcome. This premise is accepted with pharmaceutical drug therapy, but not with vitamin therapy. Most of the best-publicized vitamin E and C research has used inadequate, low doses, and this JAMA study falls right into line.
High doses of vitamins are deliberately not used. Writes Robert F. Cathcart III, M.D.: "I have been consulted by many researchers who proposed bold studies of the effects of massive doses of ascorbate (vitamin C). Every time the university center, the ethics committee, or the pharmacy committee deny permission for the use of massive doses of ascorbate and render the study almost useless. Seasoned researchers depending upon government grants do not even try to study adequate doses."
The most frequently proffered reason is the allegation that "high doses of vitamins are not safe." That is a myth. 25 years of national poison control statistics show that there is not even one death per year from vitamins. Check the research literature and see for yourself exactly who is being harmed by vitamins. Aside from the pharmaceutical industry, virtually nobody. Half of Americans take vitamin supplements every day. So where are the bodies?
Decades of physicians' reports and controlled research studies support the use of large doses of vitamins. Yet to hear the media (and JAMA) tell it, vitamins are a Granny's folk remedy: a buggy- and barrel-stave technology that just doesn't make it.
In the broadcast and print media, vitamin therapy is marginalized at best and derided at worst. Is this merely laughable, or is there method to it? One may start by asking, who does this serve? Could it possibly be the media's huge advertising-cash providers, the pharmaceutical industry? Pharmaceutical advertising money buys authors, ad space, influence, and complicity. Unfortunately, this is as true in the newspapers as it is in the medical journals.
Let the news media begin by disclosing exactly where their advertising revenue comes from. It may explain where the spin on their articles comes from, too.