Here’s my Petition Letter:
As a physician who represents thousands of well educated patients who are familiar with the tremendous volumes of positive research that supports the use of Vitamin Supplements, I was recently very disappointed to see what appears to be a coordinated effort by the AMA, the FDA, Big Pharma and the Media, to discredit dietary supplements for self interests at the expense of the US public.
A new study entitled, “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women,” published in the October 10 Archives of Internal Medicine, has given rise to wildly exaggerated headlines, such as, “Are Your Supplements Killing You?” (Fox News) throughout the major media.
Observational studies — three surveys of supplement use taken six years apart — are notoriously unreliable. On top of that, the data were adjusted numerous times in unknown ways. The study actually found, before the data were adjusted, that supplement users were statistically more likely than non-users to be non-smokers, have a lower risk of diabetes, have a lower BMI and lower mean hip-to-waist ratio, be more physically active, and have a better dietary profile. Did these healthier supplement users survive longer before “adjustment”? We aren’t told. This is a far different picture than your authors gave us in their conclusion!
As a member of the medical and scientific community, I call upon Congress to investigate the biased duplicity between the AMA, the FDA, Big Pharma and the Media. This profoundly flawed study and others like it should be reviewed with fresh, independent eyes to uncover the collusion between these groups to incite unwarranted fear among US citizens so that the FDA can justify new guidelines to regulate vitamin supplements as drugs.
The study’s methodology was so flawed as to make any results completely meaningless. To begin with, all the data was self-reported by the study subjects only three times over the course of the 19-year-long study. This is notoriously unreliable. In addition, no effort was made to correct for the prescription drugs participants were taking, even though drug reactions are a major cause of mortality. Many of the women were taking drugs that have since been pulled from the market because of their dangers.
Moreover, the data were manipulated to create a predetermined outcome, and the data–“adjusted” as it was–didn’t even support the authors’ wildly overstated conclusions. In fact, all of the relative risks with the possible exception of copper supplementation were so low as to be statistically insignificant, and none was backed up by any medical investigation or biological plausibility study.
Worst of all, the media have completely skewed and misreported the study. Even taking its conclusions at face value, media headlines and much of the media coverage has been patently false or misleading.
For example, the study did NOT show that vitamin and mineral supplements are dangerous — not for the general population, and not even for the small segment of older women covered by the study. In fact, the study actually found, before the data were adjusted, that supplement users were statistically more likely than non-users to be non-smokers, have a lower risk of diabetes, have a lower BMI and lower mean hip-to-waist ratio, be more physically active, and have a better dietary profile — all of which are proven factors in living a longer and healthier life.
Because this study could be used to support the FDA’s new supplement guidance and Sen. Durbin’s bill (which could greatly restrict supplement availability), it is critical that Congress and the Media take a closer look at this profoundly flawed study and demand censorship and retractions if the data has been manipulated to falsely sway public opinion and thus unjustly enable passage of the FDA’s New Dietary Ingredient Guidelines.
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