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Editorial Issue 52

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 52 - May 2000

You may have seen the recent headlines claiming that vitamin C causes clogged arteries and may therefore be a risk to heart disease. You may wonder what I, as an author of a book on vitamin C, containing hundreds of scientific studies pointing to vitamin C's role in preventing and even reversing atherosclerosis, could make of such bizarre headlines.

Well, luckily for all of us now, we don't have to wait until we can visit our libraries to read the paper presumably published by these researchers (Dwyer et al from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles), because of the existence of the incredible Internet.

I logged onto the internet to, which not only relayed the entire vitamin C story in great detail, but then also referred me to, which had an in-depth analysis of the information and an extremely sound rebuttal.

It appears that the Dwyer team, using an as yet clinically experimental B-mode imaging system, showed that arteries in people taking vitamin C increase in thickness. The authors had presented their findings as an abstract to the American Heart Association's 40th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention; however, their research has been submitted for publication, is currently under the peer-review process, and therefore their findings and conclusions have not yet been validated or even published.

Furthermore, experts noted that it is entirely normal and predictable for vitamin C to thicken arterial walls, since vitamin C stimulates collagen production. The findings did not mention any occlusion of the arteries, only thickening. Hence, the conclusions by experts is that in fact these findings are positive, since the thickening of the arteries may be reversing the ageing process of thinning.

Richard Cathcart MD, who has used high doses of vitamin C in his clinical practice stated that "My experience with 25,000 patients since 1969 indicates that the media report is ridiculous. I know that follow-up is not perfect in private practice but I have had no patient who had a good heart when I first saw them and who took massive doses of vitamin C who ever developed heart problems." The Vitamin C Foundation have published an alert entitled Would Medical Authorities Deliberately Misrepresent Science? in which they state that "Certain elements associated with the medical establishment have declared war on the antioxidants. We are being flooded with erroneous information daily about vitamin C and other antioxidant nutrients." They appeal that anyone noticing such reports, please forward them to the Foundation

Such reports purporting to raise concerns about the safety of herbal medicines, vitamin supplements, and even spiritual practices and exercise for cancer patients are widely and frequently published in the scientific literature. I come across these all the time, while going through our mountainous thousands of research abstracts. See for example Wyatt and colleagues (Cancer updates) and Fisher and colleagues (Herbal Medicine updates) for typical examples of such 'concerns' from the establishment. The nerve of the US Air Force trying to allege that aviation and public safety is at risk by pilots consuming herbal sources of ephedrine! There has been a similar furore over the interaction with St John's wort with several prescription medicines. Luckily, calm minds have prevailed, and we in the UK have not been faced with a total ban of such herbs, unlike in the Irish Republic, where these are obtained by prescription only.

As has been pointed out in a statement by Kim Jobst, Michael McIntyre, David St George and Midge Whitelegg, published in GreenFiles Spring 2000 (Tel: 01623 626842) "while recent studies indicate that St John's wort may potentiate certain sub-enzymes of the cytochrome P450 enzyme system, it should be noted that several common foods and drinks also influence parts of this same enzyme system. It is well documented that grapefruit juice is a potent inhibitor of cytochrome P450. Conversely, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are P450 inducers. Similarly, charcoal-grilled beef, red wine, ethanol, and cigarette smoke also induce the cytochrome P450 system and have the potential to alter the rate at which many drugs are metabolized."

Lesson: obtain clear information, keep an open mind, and don't be swayed by dogma. This is as true for the many strands of the complementary health community as it is for our perceived opponents.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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