A panel of experts convened by the government, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, says that for most vitamins and minerals, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the pills can lower risk of heart disease or cancer. From Government Experts Say Supplements Don't Prevent Heart Disease, Cancer in the latest issue of Time by Alexandra Sifferlin
According to Wikipedia, The United States Preventive Services Task Force is, "an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services. The task force, a panel of primary care physicians and epidemiologists, is funded, staffed, and appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality". In other words, these are the folks who brought us EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE (HERE are all of my posts on the topic).
Just like back in school, the USPSTF assigns letter grades (A, B, C, D, or I) to each of its recommendations.
- Grade A: Recommended. There is high certainty that the net benefit is substantial.
- Grade B: Recommended. There is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.
- Grade C: No recommendation. Clinicians may provide the service to selected patients depending on individual circumstances. However, for most individuals without signs or symptoms there is likely to be only a small benefit.
- Grade D: The Task Force recommends against this service. There is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.
- Grade I: The current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms.
One other thing I should mention about their grades and recommendations is that unlike virtually anything and everything done in the private sector, the cost of said treatment is not taken into account when looked at by the USPSTF. This means that you end up with ridiculous (and absurdly expensive) recommendations such as these (HERE and HERE are two of thousands). Oh, and in case you had not heard, these recommendations are bought and paid for by the highest bidder. Yep, these grades and recommendations are lobbied for just like in congress.
So, when the USPSTF comes out and says that there is no "evidence" that taking vitamin or mineral supplements can help prevent Cardiovascular Disease or CANCER, should we believe them? I believe that the answer to this question is both yes and no. The truth is, I find it difficult to trust a medically oriented organization, when there are 30 billion non-insurance dollars on the table (30 billion is the approximate amount of money spent by Americans on Nutritional Supplements). After all, we have seen governmental organizations attempt to pass legislation to totally control Nutritional Supplements numerous times over the past couple of decades. On the other hand, I do believe that the evidence for Vitamins and Minerals is slim as far as preventing Cancer and Heart Disease is concerned. There are at least a couple of reasons that come immediately to mind.
Firstly, since both of these problems are considered to be INFLAMMATORY, it would only make sense that the best supplements for dealing with both of these problems would something with the ability to squelch INFLAMMATION. This would be PFGO, which, while a Nutritional Supplement, is neither a Vitamin nor Mineral (there is a mountain of research on this particular supplement --- click on the link). Secondly, it takes about two seconds to realize that the studies the government is looking at to make their determinations, pertain to Synthetic (chemically fractionated) Vitamins. If you have not figured out that there is a difference, please take a couple of minutes to read my SYNTHETIC NUTRITION -vs- WHOLE FOOD NUTRITION page. Understanding and following this simple-to-grasp concept will change your life for the better.
In these studies, the practitioners are using Synthetic Nutrition like they would use a drug. In other words, doctors take patients with problem X, give them supplement Y, and look to see if they improve. This my friends, is not how "health" works. It is the hollow promise of medicine --- giving chemicals to control symptoms. If you want to get your health back, you have to go at it from a "Whole Body" perspective. To better understand what I mean by this, just realize that when looking at Vitamins' relationship to Cancer, the USPSTF showed that synthetic Beta Carotene actually increased people's chances of developing certain cancers ---- most particularly lung cancer. They also claimed that Fish Oil caused increases in the rates of Prostate Cancer (HERE). If you want to understand what it really takes to jump start your health, while kicking sickness and disease in the butt, you need to start by reading THESE POSTS.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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