Conflicting studies don’t prove supplements good or bad, but Jon helps us determine what’s right for ourselves.
Supplements Bad — Folic Acid and B6 Under the Gun
Results from the Norwegian Vitamin Trial were presented at the European Society of Cardiology last Monday. And according to the results, folic acid and B6 are deadly!
For the study, researchers from the University of Tromsø looked at 4,749 heart attack survivors. In addition to their standard heart medicines, the patients received either daily folic acid, daily vitamin B6, both folic acid and vitamin B6 or a placebo for three years.
After three and a half years, those who had been taking either folic acid or vitamin B6 alone had only a small increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack or stroke), compared with those who had received the placebo. But those who had taken both folic acid and vitamin B6 each day had a 20% increased risk of heart attack and stroke, despite their homocysteine levels going down by up to 30%. The results also showed there was a 40% increase in the risk of new cancers in the group taking folic acid, which the researchers said warranted further investigation.
Professor Kaare Harald Bønaa, the author of the study, said in summary: “The results of the NORVIT trial are important because they tell doctors that prescribing high doses of B vitamins will not prevent heart disease or stroke.”
And true to form, the ravenous wolves are piling on for the kill as “reasonable” voices now begin to appear all over the media saying, “We told you so.”
For example, Dr. Ray Gibbons, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, has already been quoted as saying,. “This is the latest in a series of things that when tested in a scientific way don’t actually pan out the way people expected.”
And then there’s Dr. Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, who said, “The message is clear here: Don’t take folate or B-6 in the hope that it will stop you having a heart attack or stroke. If there was a real major effect, they would have seen it.”
The message is clear??? I don’t think so.
What is the message?
The data derived from the study may or may not be true (although most people’s experience says it’s not), but one thing is for sure, the logic they used to reach those conclusions is absurd. Keep in mind, all of the people in the study were on hardcore heart medications.
Is it just me, or doesn’t this seem like a fairly significant fact to forget when assessing the study’s conclusions? Let’s look at the logic being used in this study. To make it crystal clear, I’ll give you a side by side comparison.
|A||Take drugs after a heart attack and your chances of experiencing another cardiovascular incident are”X”||Breathe hydrogen and
your voice gets high
|B||Take drugs along with B6 and folic acid after a heart attack and your chances of another cardiovascular incident are X+20%||Breathe hydrogen and oxygen together (water) and you drown|
|C||Just taking B6 and folic acid by themselves increases your chances of a cardiovascular incident by 20%||Just breathing oxygen by itself causes you to drown|
When I went to college back in the 60’s, I studied logic. It appears, however, that logic is no longer a requirement for medical researchers…nor for the doctors commenting on their research.
Look, the only statement that you can make based on this study is that taking B6 and folic acid while also taking hardcore prescription heart medications may be unhealthy. It doesn’t mean that B6 and Folic acid present a problem by themselves, just that the combination when used with prescription drugs may present a problem.
Actually, not a surprise when you think about it. Many supplements do not mix well with medications — but then again most medications don’t mix well with each other, or when taken by themselves for that matter.
Supplements Good: Vitamins and Minerals Get a Boost
Not surprisingly, a huge number of questions we get at the Foundation relate to cancer. Unfortunately, for obvious legal reasons, we cannot diagnose or prescribe for specific illness – especially hot button illnesses such as cancer. However, what we are able to do is provide information and point people in directions that might prove useful.
And just a couple of months ago, a fascinating piece of information came out of the Mayo Clinic — information that might prove useful.
Mayo Clinic study
In July of this year, a research team from the Mayo Clinic published in Lung Cancer the results of a study tracking 1,129 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. All of the patients received the typical surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments, but some 63% of the patients reported that they regularly used vitamin and mineral supplements after receiving their “medical” treatment. In the end, the differences between patients who used supplements and those who did not was anything but subtle; supplement users lived over twice as long (4.3 years versus 2 years) and reported better quality of life.
As the authors of the study reported, their intent was to address the question: “Are these supplements helping or hurting cancer patients” — a question they felt had never previously been adequately addressed? And even after adjusting for all possible variables that might influence the results, the study ultimately determined that supplement users were 26% less likely to die than non-users. And equally as important, supplement users reported significantly better quality of life versus non-users.
The authors concluded: “The present study provides sufficiently compelling data to invite further investigation of vitamins/mineral supplements as adjunctive therapy for cancer patients in a clinical trial setting and to underscore the need for patients to participate in current ongoing trials.”
These results are actually quite stunning. And considering that other studies have shown that as many as 80% of all Americans (about half as many in Europe) now use supplements on a regular basis, you could make the case that, statistically at least, much of the improvement in outlook seen in cancer survivors over the past ten years could be attributed to the use of supplements — at least based on the numbers seen in the Mayo Clinic study.
Now that’s interesting information.
But the truth is probably even more dramatic
When you consider that the Mayo Clinic study made no determination as to the “quality” of supplements being used by their patients (as if they would know what that actually means), the actual numbers are probably much more dramatic for those who used high grade supplements — and probably higher still for those who actually knew what they were doing and used high potency cancer specific herbs and supplements. The bottom line is that the true meaning of the Mayo Clinic study is actually paradigm shattering.
So why haven’t you heard about this study before?
I’m willing to bet that almost no one reading this newsletter either heard or read about the Mayo Clinic in the news. At the very least, it certainly didn’t get the play that faulty studies trashing Echinacea and Vitamin E received in the last year. Is the mainstream press biased against alternative health? (Well, actually yes; and most would probably readily admit it. If it doesn’t come from the medical establishment, their policy is to avoid risk and not publish it.) But I don’t think that’s the issue here. After all, news is news, and this study did indeed come from the medical establishment — the Mayo Clinic being about as establishment as you can get.
No, I think the problem in this case is that it just didn’t make exciting copy. Compare headlines
- Supplements may improve outlook for non-small cell lung cancer patients
- Echinacea Proven Useless
- Vitamin E Can Kill You
- New Orleans Disappears
Regardless of why the media chose not to carry the results of the Mayo Clinic study, its importance to you is monumental. It is mainstream confirmation of what most of you have believed for some time — that alternative health makes a difference. It also should tell you that the more effectively and intelligently you exercise alternative health options, the better your odds of a favorable outlook for many forms of catastrophic illness, not just cancer.
So What Now
As I mentioned earlier, at the Foundation we receive thousands of requests each year for information on cancer, and as I said, all we can do is point people to information. For any of you interested, here’s where we point them.
- Listen to my talk on cancer, Cancer, the Big Lie
- Check out the addendum to that talk Cancer Addendum
- And check out the file, Doing the Baseline of Health® Program Intensively
In addition, you might want to search the internet on the following terms:
- Check out Anvirzel and its low cost alternative oleander soup
- AHCC and cancer
- Poly-MVA and cancer
- Modified citrus pectin and cancer
- Cesium chloride and pH and cancer
Good for a Laugh
I’m sorry, but I think when you consider these studies side-by-side, it’s laugh out loud funny. Here we’ve got two definitive studies released less than two months apart. In the Mayo Clinic Study they find that taking added vitamins (including B6 and folic acid) doubles the life expectancy of cancer survivors. And then we have the Norwegian study, which throws off as an aside that taking B6 and folic acid increases your risk of cancer by 40%.
Doesn’t that strike you as pretty much contradictory? When you think about it, only one of them can be right. That makes it pretty much a 50/50 proposition. (You can probably guess which conclusion I think is more accurate.)
Actually, an article in the online medical journal, Plos Medicine, puts it beautifully. It concludes that more than half of all published scientific research is just plain wrong. Let’s hear it for the value and validity of peer reviewed studies.