[This is Part One of a 2-part series of articles about the War on Vitamins being waged by the world's top pharmaceutical companies that seek to protect their enormous profits from products that cure at the source rather than merely mask symptoms.]
The world's 30 leading pharmaceutical companies raked in over $750 billion in revenue last year as U.S. healthcare costs continue to soar. The profit is in the treatment and not the cure, as many have observed.
There is every indication that major drug manufacturers are using their deep pockets to promote their products, which typically target symptoms while bashing alternative therapies that target the source of the problem.
Just look at the number of ads on TV and in magazines for prescription drugs, riddled with side effects that are often far more dangerous (and unpleasant) than the condition the product was designed to treat.
This is no accident, according to nutritionist Andrew W. Saul who has written extensively about the suppression of research that shows vitamins can help a body rebalance and heal.
On Saul's website, DoctorYourself.com, he paints a compelling picture of how Big Pharma companies pay cash to study authors. He claimed that researchers who arrived at negative conclusions about vitamin E had "received substantial income from the pharmaceutical industry."
Not only that, but the study authors were named on the last page of the study paper in the "Conflict of Interest" section. Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Amgen, Firmagon, and Novartis all paid "a number of the study authors," alleged Saul.
The supplement Truther said there is evidence that trials of new drugs and studies of wellness benefits of vitamins and essential nutrients are rigged. Common techniques include using low doses to guarantee a negative result and biasing the interpretation of the findings to show a statistical increase in risk.
Big Pharma companies represent significant earnings for popular periodicals and trade publications and use that economic leverage to bias media content toward their interests. At the same time, the absence of published studies about the health benefits of supplements keeps authors from undertaking any opposing research that might reduce the pharmaceutical's massive income stream:
"The largest and most popular medical journals receive very large income from pharmaceutical advertising. Peer-reviewed research indicates that this influences what they print, and even what study authors conclude from their data."
Saul destroyed an anti-supplement article from NBC published in November 2013. The lead sentence states matter-of-factly:
"There's not much evidence that vitamins can prevent heart disease or cancer – the two leading killers of Americans, experts said."
The article ends by quoting NBC's Diet and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom:
"Consumers should know that taking vitamins does not offset poor lifestyle choices. Many people fool themselves into 'bartering' for self-selected lifestyle factors. Smokers who take vitamins to support heart health, or sun-worshippers who take antioxidant vitamins to prevent skin cancer, are only fooling themselves."
The first statement, that there is no proof that vitamins are medicinally preventative, is patently false. The source for this misinformation was a research team at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. Their bad conclusions were passed on to the federal level for adoption by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to update their advice to consumers.
Consider this news byte from another USPSTF Task Force member, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a heart disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco:
"A healthy balanced diet is critical for good health and that's probably the most important way that we get the nutrients that are essential."
"Probably?" Isn't the cardio specialist sure of herself?
Furthermore, you don't have to be a genius to understand that, ideally, yes, we would get all the vitamins we need from a perfectly well-balanced diet. But what about the people who aren't? Can vitamins help them?
The fact is that most doctors never took a single nutrition class in their years of extensive training. And yet, they feel entitled to dispense advice like it was candy.
The USPSTF reviewed 24 studies of individual vitamins, minerals or functional nutrient pairs and found "no evidence of beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, cancer, or all-cause mortality."
As for Fernstrom's position, she takes the limited view that taking vitamins does not offset poor lifestyle choices and gives a couple of examples of wishful thinking by vitamin-takers who otherwise abuse their bodies by smoking or tanning. No one is claiming that vitamins can cure everything. But can they cure some things?
The short answer is YES, as supplement advocate Saul demonstrates by listing multiple scientific studies that link vitamin use to better health.
[In Part Two of this 2-part series on Big Pharma's War on Vitamins, we'll explore the many valid scientific studies that support using dietary supplements to improve health and wellness.]