by Tim Mount, CN, CCMH
A new study, titled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” reported by CNN and other infallible infotainment “news” outlets yesterday claims that “multivitamins should be avoided” and are “a waste of money”. To make such claims I’m sure there is definitive, rock solid scientific proof. Thankfully, this article written by Nadia Kounang provides 3 gold standard, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies which a claim like this would warrant.
Oh wait, I just noticed that Ms. Kounang is passing off an EDITORIAL (not a peer reviewed article) published in the Anals (or at least where it should be) of some medical journal by Dr. Edgar Miller of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a way to guide millions of people’s health decisions. In an attempt to confuse people’s understanding of what an editorial is (opinion piece), Ms. Kounang describes the 3 studies that this doctor guy used to form his opinion, so as to look like it was solid science.
Upon further review all three citations clearly don’t draw the generalized conclusion that the author asserts…
First off, let’s throw one study out the window immediately. Writing of the study, “it was difficult for authors to come to any real conclusions about the vitamins’ effectiveness.” Why, you ask, was this even included in the CNN article or in the editorial by Dr. Miller? Well, I don’t know about you, but I usually just skim the first few paragraphs of an article, and I prefer to see that three studies were used to form the conclusion, not two. It adds credibility, and I’m too busy to read the whole thing.
To Ms. Kounang’s credit, she also offers a differing opinion of a second study that looks at men only, over the age of 65 – who by the way were all physicians with no health problems – and reveals that they all scored the same on a cognitive test after taking multivitamins. Wait a second, already smart doctors who probably have nutrient rich diets didn’t boost their IQs because of multivitamins? What a revelation!
…ok, two useless studies down, one to go…
The main study used to form the author’s dubious conclusion found that “multivitamins had no beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular disease or cancer.” Great. Awesome. Wonderful. Does that mean they are a “waste of money” and “should be avoided”? Last I checked I was taking a multi to fill in nutritional holes in my diet, not as a cure for cancer.
Dr. Miller is quoted in the article as saying, “The (vitamin and supplement) industry is based on anecdote, people saying ‘I take this, and it makes me feel better’.” On the CNN article page a summary notes that the industry, in it’s unsubstantiated greed, “rakes in $12 billion annually”. Yes, that’s right, not a single shred of scientific evidence exists for any supplement. All the benefits are just a delusional placebo effect on a grand scale.
Oh yeah, by the way, Dr. Miller is dead wrong:
“Conclusion in this large prevention trial of male physicians, daily multivitamin supplementation modestly but significantly reduced the risk of total cancer.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23162860
A multivitamin may reduce the risk of cancer – see http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-315371725.html
Dr. Miller and Ms. Kounang, you’re right, Enough is Enough! Stop misleading the American public about the supplements industry. If your article was titled, “Multivitamins May Not Prevent Heart Disease” I’d be fine with it. But this article goes too far!
On a side note, I’m writing an editorial about how all prescription drugs are useless because I ran across 3 studies – ok 2 studies – about how the drug Lipitor doesn’t cure gout or exploding heart syndrome. Maybe CNN will pick it up?
Fortunately, the only real conclusion we can draw from this article is that multivitamins are indeed making CNN reporting useless.