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Letters to the Editor Issue 80

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 80 - September 2002

Aromatherapy Statutory Regulation Group (ASRG) Seeking Patient Representative

The ASRG consider it to be beneficial to have a patients' perspective on the effect of statutory regulation. This needs to be someone who has been a regular patient of aromatherapy, who is interested in the development of the profession and who feels that they would have something to contribute to the debate and decision making process on statutory regulation. They would need to attend about 4 meetings a year in London and travelling expenses will be paid. It is likely that this will run from this autumn for at least two years.

Replies to: Geoff Lawler
The Public Affairs Company
Castlehill House, 21 Otley Road,
Leeds, LS6 3AA
Tel: 0113 278 0211; Fax:0113 278 0214
E: pac@publicaffairsco.com

Seeking Feedback Re 'Over-The-Counter' Genetic Tests

The Government has asked the Human Genetics Commission (HGC) to conduct a thorough review of genetic testing services currently available 'over the counter' rather than through a medical practitioner. To facilitate this, the HGC is seeking public opinion on a variety of issues relating to genetic testing.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Chair of the Human Genetics Commission, said: "A growing number of health related tests are available directly from shops or over the Internet, without the option of discussing the results and their possible implications with a doctor. Technological advances, coupled with the public's growing awareness of health-related issues, mean that 'high street' genetic testing is likely to increase. We want to examine the current framework and provide recommendations to Ministers on whether new controls are necessary."

Copies of the consultation document are available on Tel: 020 7972 1518; www.hgc.gov.uk/testingconsultation. All responses must be in by 4 October 2002.

Further Information: www.hgc.gov.uk

Update re EU Supplement and Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directives

The UK market in food supplements and herbal remedies is under threat right now. Many safe and popular higher potency food supplements, many nutrients, and a substantial number of herbal remedies could be lost.

The dangers are posed by two main items of EU legislation:

  • The Food Supplements Directive – passed into European Law on 12th July 2002;
  • The Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive – now being fast tracked through the EU Parliament in order to accommodate the Candidate States expecting to enter the Union in 2004.

The Food Supplements Directive
Although couched as a consumer safety and free trade measure, the role of the Food Supplements Directive is to standardise the different regulatory regimes for food supplements (vitamins and minerals) across the existing 15 Member countries of the European Union (EU). This may mean some slight liberalisation of the market in France and Germany, but for the existing liberal markets of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in particular it will mean the certain loss of many thousands of products.

Reduced Potency
The first threat is that the Directive introduces a system of maximum permitted levels for nutrient content. These levels could be set substantially lower than the 'upper safe level' because the process will start with a cautious assessment by the EU Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) of 'safe level' (e.g. vitamin B6 at 25mg/day). That level will then be further reduced to take into account risk management factors such as nutrient intake from other dietary sources and population reference intakes (similar to the RDA recommendations). Political considerations will then come into play with the Governments of France and Germany already seeking to block everything above one or two times RDA levels from being allowed. The final decision on nutrient levels will be a political one – not a scientific one, and the UK almost stands alone on pushing for USLs.

Loss of Nutrients
The second threat is that the Directive contains a 'Positive list' of permitted nutrients and nutrient sources which may be used in supplements. If a nutrient is not on the list then it cannot be used. At present there are almost 300 safe and popular nutrients and nutrient sources on the UK market that are not on the list. To get a substance added to the list now would require the manufacturers to submit a safety dossier for consideration by the EU SCF. There is a short window of opportunity for the submission of these dossiers (36 months). But time is running out for hundreds of nutrients for which the UK/EU industry is not bothering or cannot afford to submit dossiers, simply because the production of acceptable dossiers can be very expensive, particularly if full supportive clinical evidence is not readily available and needs to be commissioned. At the last count, only 21 dossiers were being prepared. The Directive has now been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities (12th July 2002) and will be transposed into the laws of all member countries in just a few months.

Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive
Europe is considering a Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive that, according to EU officials, is being fast tracked to accommodate the requirements of Candidate Countries, even though many manufacturers, retailers and consumer groups believe the Directive is deeply flawed. This Directive will have a devastating affect on herbal products currently on the UK market and in some other European countries. It would allow a safe herbal product onto the market – only if it had already been on the European market for 30 years (or 15 years in Europe and 15 years in another territory), and that it had been manufactured to pharmaceutical standards. Safe and effective herbal products that have been on the market for decades in countries outside the Union could never be introduced into Europe under these proposals. Many herbal products (rather than ingredients) have not been on the EU market for the necessary period. Also, it is inappropriate to apply pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing procedures to natural remedies.

There would be no future product innovation, and many important product categories would be left outside the scope of the legislation. In particular, products that are mixtures of herbs with nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) would become illegal in the UK (including many multi-ingredient supplements) because the Directive makes no provision for such combinations.

The industry estimates that about 70% of herbal products currently on the market are at risk. Even if most products were to comply with the pharmaceutical standards of the Directive, they would still not be able to register because they would not qualify under the 30 year rule i.e. they have not been on the market for the required 30 years (of which 15 years must be in Europe).

Under this directive as it is now written, no new herbal products could be placed on the market anywhere in the EU!

10 Months To Make A Difference
It is not too late to act in relation to either of these two major Directives. We have about 10 months of intense work in which to make a real difference. The Food Supplements Directive is a framework' Directive, dealing with vitamins and minerals only. At present it does not specify the maximum permitted levels for individual nutrients. However, the process of setting those maximum levels for nutrients is underway. While the list of permitted nutrients has been published it is not yet too late to add new nutrients. The proposed Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive has not yet completed its progress through either the European Parliament or the EU Council of Ministers. The Directive could still be blocked or substantially amended. Both these Directives can still be influenced by rational scientific argument, new scientific evidence, consumer pressure, industry lobbying and diplomatic pressure.

CHC needs additional financial support at this crucial time. Cheques payable to 'Consumers for Health Choice' may be sent to:

Consumers for Health Choice
9 Old Queen Street
London SW1H 9JA

Further Information
E: enquiries@healthchoice.org.uk
W: www.healthchoice.org.uk

EU Supplement Directive

I was sent a copy of your excellent article European Directive on Food Supplements written by Mike Abrahams, published in the March issue. As you are well acquainted now the EU legislation was passed in Strasbourg and we are waiting now to see the reaction of Westminster. At the British Society of Allergy, Environment and Nutritional Medicine (BSEAM) we had a scientific meeting on the 7th June. A motion was passed by all persons present at the meeting that:

"This society is of the opinion that the future development of environmentally based medicine in Europe is threatened by the EU legislation".

All our members will be doing their utmost to ensure that suitably modified legislation, compatible to the supplement and health food industry, is passed by Westminster.

Dr Anthony D Fox BSc, MB, BS, DCH, DRCOG, MRCGP
Member BSEAM committee

More: EU Supplement Directive

This is an issue which I feel very strongly about. My health was damaged badly when I was 17 by a medical Acne drug called RO-Accutane, which although cured me of the acne 100%, left me with side effects which never disappeared and subsequently I believe that the damage that drug did to my immune system led to the condition called ME or CFS, which I have had since then for almost 13 years. The manufacturers and the doctors who treated me are now being sued for negligence by people the world over who have suffered a huge range of damaging long term side effects. The damage and ill health caused by conventional Medicine is shocking and seriously outweigh the small number of people affected by supplements.

The Drug has the longest list of side effects of any in the British National Formulae, used by GPs when prescribing. I am better now than I was but still only able to work PT, and high potency Food Supplements are helping me enormously, with no side effects. As you know, new research is being done in the area of antioxidants which are breaking new ground in studies. A colleague in Australia has actually cured himself of the condition (ME) using a very specific program which I am now embarking upon which include nutrients which I am worried the directive may remove! The nutrients are Ester C, ALA, Carnitine, Glutamine, Chelated Magnesium, Mixed Tocopheryl Vitamin E.

Do we know if these nutrients or the types of nutrients are being included in the directive or will they be? Also regarding the 'maximum safety levels', is there a table of what these levels are? I also take Cats Claw herb which since starting I have not had a cold or virus for 2 years. I understand this would be illegal if the upcoming Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive is passed!

This is extremely worrying and I am so disgusted I cannot find words to describe how I feel.

I'm so angry about this typical centralized EU bureacracy because there are so many people who rely on Extra Nutritional Vitamins/herbs in their fight against otherwise untreatable conditions such as mine who need to be able to keep taking them. The EU should be investigating the huge damage caused by so called 'modern' 'advanced' medicine, rather than taking pots shots at the industry which has helped so many.

Martin Conroy
E: battlehound@ntlworld.com

Sanity Please. CODEX: Government's Wake Up Call!

The very fact that there are deliberations to establish upper limits on the intake of essential vitamins and minerals is likely to mean some number must be agreed upon by CODEX. There is a false assumption that there is a significant enough health risk to consumers who overdose on food supplements, enough so that limits must be established with some haste.

It can be argued that the over-dosage of any substance can produce side effects. While food supplements are not free of side effects, they are relatively safe. They are safer than chlorinated tap water (long-term carcinogen; causes bladder, kidney and rectal cancer), table salt (results in millions of cases of hypertension), aspirin and ibuprofen (causes stomach ulcers which may haemorrhage and result in death), cow's milk (countries with the highest consumption have the highest mortality rates), bacon preserved with nitrates (increases risk of brain cancer more than 10-fold), and acetaminophen (Tylenol, which causes thousands of cases of liver toxicity annually, hundreds of liver transplants and some deaths), all which are non-prescription items.

Efforts to restrict the dosage of food supplements appear to be a misdirected priority. CODEX convenes at a time when it has become apparent there are more than 150,000 needless deaths from properly prescribed drugs annually in the USA (over 400 preventable deaths per day, equivalent to a fully loaded commercial airliner crashing and killing all on board every day!). Furthermore, it has become apparent that the biological action of most prescription medications can be duplicated with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbal products at far less cost and side effects to consumers. The public needs to be educated about the health benefits of food supplements, not scared away as is currently the case.

Some of the current restrictions on the dosage of food supplements are already harming the public. For example, the FDA does not permit more than 99 milligrams of potassium in a food supplement due to a small number of people who may develop potassium overload. Yet consumers can eat a couple of bananas a day, which provides about 700 milligrams of potassium per piece of fruit. This reveals a bias against food supplements that is in urgent need of correction.

In a sense, it could be said that table salt is a food supplement (concentrated, refined sodium). The over-consumption of salt, approximately 4000 milligrams per day in the USA, results in millions of cases of hypertension and hastens the onset of osteoporosis since sodium competes with calcium for absorption. Prepared foods are laced with salt as companies compete for the consumer's palate. So there is little hope that Americans will reduce sodium consumption to recommended levels (<1500 mgs per day) without the cooperation of food purveyors. Yet not a word is uttered to restrict the dosage of sodium in an unlabeled salt shaker nor in labelled canned food. The antidote to the over-dosage of sodium is potassium, which guards against salt sensitivity. But the dosage restriction on potassium in food supplements prevents most consumers from obtaining a simple and cost-effective answer to the problem. Instead, millions of dollars of ineffective anti-hypertensive drugs are sold in the place of potassium.

The US FDA has taken an untenable position by often scaring the public away from so-called high-dose food supplements. CODEX may make the same mistake. For example, the FDA has repeatedly issued warnings for the public to be wary of high-dose vitamin A supplements. The potential risk is liver toxicity, which only occurs in about 30 people annually in the USA, most whom have pre-existing liver disease. Yet health authorities estimate millions of Americans have low vitamin A levels and exhibit health problems such as diminished night vision and a compromised immune system. Yet to prevent a few from developing liver toxicity the FDA warns millions of adults away from supplemental vitamin A.

For various reasons explained in a memo I addressed to US CODEX delegates two years ago, I believe that limits on the dosage of food supplements will result in significant health problems. The science on vitamins is changing rapidly and the dosage of vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin C needed for optimal health is likely to exceed any proposed upper limits presented to the delegates of CODEX. For example, an upper limit on the dosage of supplemental vitamin D is likely to be harmful to blacks living in northern latitudes who are immune compromised due to their limited ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

Sadly, while recent studies reveal nutritional deficiencies at epidemic levels, which result in significant morbidity and mortality, CODEX ponders upper limits for food supplements. Recent studies indicate as much as 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, 80 percent deficient in essential fatty acids, 40 percent do not consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 or vitamin D, and more than 90 percent do not consume the amount of vitamin C that has been conclusively shown to prevent cataracts (300 mgs) and reduce blood pressure (500 mgs). Food supplements could safely and economically remedy these deficiencies, but the public is not alerted. Just the shortage of magnesium in the American diet results in an estimated 340,000 cases of sudden-death heart attack annually.

If an outbreak of beri beri due to a vitamin B1 (thiamin) shortage affecting just a few thousand people were to be reported in the news media, health officials would be compelled to correct the problem. Yet millions of Americans today exhibit overt signs of nutritional deficiency while public health authorities point their finger of accusation at the few side effects caused by food supplements which are largely reversible and non-mortal.

CODEX convenes at an historic moment in time when man-made medicines are beginning to fail. Bacteria are now resistant to the 'magic bullet' antibiotics. Over 14,000 Americans now die needlessly in hospitals due to mutated microbes that cannot be killed by the most potent antibiotics. Again, modern medicine's over-reliance upon prescription drugs is the problem. While it has been conclusively shown that carvacrol and allicin, the active ingredients in oregano and garlic, can kill virtually every known bacterium without inducing germ resistance, these natural remedies are ignored and are often considered nothing more than snake oil. Even needless death does not prompt public health authorities to look at natural alternatives. At a time when there is anxiety over biological terrorism, there is even some evidence that carvacrol and allicin are potent against the anthrax bacterium and the smallpox virus, yet pharmaceutical companies continue to gain the attention of the news media and funding from governmental sources for problematic vaccines that are known to result in significant mortality.

For these and other reasons, I re-submit the letter I wrote to the US CODEX delegation two years ago, with hopes it will be read in detail and that the CODEX convention will back away from proposed limits on the dosage of food supplements, at least until further research is conducted.

Sincerely,
©Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
Bill Sardi's complete report on CODEX: W: www.askbillsardi.com/doc/Upperlimits.doc

Further Information
www.citizensvoice.org/index2.html for Health Canada's Hall of Shame.
www.iahf.com/world/index.html#codex

Childhood Vaccination

It's school time and that means that many parents are being told "no shots – no school". That is not true. Forty-eight US states (Mississippi and West Virginia are the only exclusions) have a religious and/or philosophical exemption to vaccination and all states have a medical exemption. The Canadian Constitution guarantees a person's right to refuse vaccinations.

Deaths from childhood diseases were dropping steeply before vaccines were introduced. There is no proof that vaccines can be credited with eliminating any childhood disease. Epidemiological (the study of disease and health in populations) research shows that better nutrition, clean water, sanitation and better living conditions are responsible for the drop in disease.

One of America's most celebrated paediatricians, the late Dr Robert Mendelsohn MD said, "There has never been a single vaccine in this country [the USA] that has ever been submitted to a controlled scientific study. They never took a group of 100 people who were candidates for a vaccine, gave 50 of them a vaccine and left the other 50 alone to measure the outcome. And since that hasn't been done, that means if you want to be kind, you will call vaccines an unproven remedy. If you want to be accurate, you'll call people who give vaccines 'quacks'."

Not only is their effectiveness in question but there is growing evidence that vaccinations cause autism, allergies, learning disorders, ADD & ADHD, asthma, diabetes, dyslexia, hearing problems, vision problems, digestive disorders, stuttering and developmental delays. How can vaccination cause so many different problems? It appears that one of the mechanisms of vaccine damage is inflammation of the base of the brain that causes the 'insulation' or myelin that covers the nerves to dissolve. The brain then short-circuits and many different body functions can be affected. Others have noticed the similarity of autism and brain dysfunction to toxic poisoning (many toxic substances are put in vaccines as preservatives, stabilizers etc.) According to medical historian Dr Harris Coulter, nearly 1 in 5 children is neurologically damaged by vaccination.[1]

The art of healing comes from Nature, not the physician… Every illness has its own remedy within itself... A man could not be born alive and healthy were there not already a physician hidden in him. Paracelsus

Reference:

1. Vaccination, Social Violence and Criminality: The Medical Assault on the American Brain by Harris L. Coulter, Ph.D. Center for Empirical Medicine, Washington, D.C. 1990.   www.korenpublications.com/0901pn_1_.htm

Source:
Chris Gupta
E: mbgupta@impa.uwo.ca

Pesticides and Cancer

Lawn care companies are trying to convince us they're safe, but thirty-two of the 34 most widely used pesticides in Canada have never been tested for environmental or health risks

Everybody knows somebody who has died prematurely from cancer. For my family, it was our courageous young friend David. He died at the age of 11 after a 20-month battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Last week, I wrote about the tragic death of Eric Krause, who was only 35 when he succumbed to lymphoma. My husband also lost a good friend to lymphoma. My friend Linda lost her niece to a brain tumour earlier this year, my son's teacher lost her sister to breast cancer, as did my friend, Bev. The list is long and terrifying and it rattles our fears that what we are doing to the environment is connected to all this.

Last month, the London-based Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine warned that cancer-causing chemicals are now the number one killer of Europeans between the ages of 35 and 65, overtaking heart disease as public health enemy No 1. According to Dr Claude Reiss, official statistics from the EU have confirmed that more than one million Europeans die prematurely every year as a result of carcinogens in pesticides, pollution, cigarette smoke and food additives.

In an address to the British House of Commons, Dr Reiss said, "Among the most dangerous chemical substances are the thousands of pesticide compounds in use in the EU which pose an especially serious threat to human health." (The Scotsman May 15, 2002).

The news comes at a time when pesticide companies are furiously trying to do damage control. Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that municipalities have the right to restrict pesticide use, chemical companies are furiously trying to hold on to their market share of the lawn care market. In an all-out public relations war, company representatives are making presentations to local councils, writing opinion pieces and letters to the editors of community newspapers and handing out materials about the safety of lawn chemicals.

"They've taken on pro-environment names like the Ontario Environmental Coalition, hired lobbyists, written letters, made presentations and packed meetings," warned Alex Cullen, a member of the Ottawa City Council. (Canada.com May 26, 2002). Ottawa has joined other major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Halifax and Toronto that are moving to restrict the cosmetic use of pesticides.

In response to the Ottawa initiative, Thom Bourne, the owner of a Nutri Lawn company, blames consumers for misusing pesticide products and claims that as far as health risks are concerned, it's a question of fact versus fiction.

"It's just the activists that are saying those things," he said. Bourne also claims that since 1975, "Not a single known carcinogen has been used in Canada." (Ottawa Sun June 10, 2002).

Part of the problem in this country is that according to a 1995 study, 32 of the 34 most widely used pesticides in Canada have never been tested for environmental or health risks. (Vancouver Sun June 3, 2002). Fortunately, this is changing. The federal government has already phased out the use of two popular pesticides chlorpyrifos (sold as Dursban) and Diazinon. Both are suspected to cause damage to the nervous system.

The Fed's Pesticide Management Review Agency (PMRA) is currently evaluating one of the most popular of all lawn chemicals 2,4-D. This follows a Health Canada study that found that 2,4-D is transmitted through male sperm, into the female egg, and if the egg is fertilized, the pesticide is passed on to the developing foetus. Unfortunately, the exposure doesn't stop there.

"The umbilical chord is a pipeline straight into the developing foetus' brain," said Dr Warren Bell, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. What is truly tragic is that we are polluting the first and most sacred environment by chemicals that are used almost exclusively for cosmetic reasons.

The womb is only the first environment of exposure – and potential danger – for our children. A recent US national cancer study found that children who live in homes where pesticides are used are six times more likely to develop leukemia.

While government agencies and local municipalities sort out what can and cannot be used, what pesticides cause cancer or damage the brain or nervous system, there is a lot that individuals can do. Whenever possible, buy organic. Wash or peel commercially grown produce. Eat lower on the food chain (pesticides and other carcinogenic chemicals bio-accumulate up the food chain). Don't use lawn and garden chemicals and encourage your neighbours to do the same. Get involved. Attend council meetings and write letters to the editor countering the claims of pesticide pushers.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: www.cape.ca
Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine: www.dlrm.org
Suzanne Elston
Source: Chris Gupta

Confessions of a Medical Heretic

'The Physicians Desk Reference' (PDR) lists the following side effects of common anti-hypertension drugs: rash, hives, dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, inflammation of the blood vessels, joint aches, confusion, muscle spasms, nausea, and loss of sex drive and potency! A recent study indicated that over 30% of those on hypertensive drugs had no problem at all.Their built-in fear of the Doctor's office induced higher blood pressure which returned to normal upon leaving the high anxiety environment!Is it really worth the dangers of the drug when you can achieve the same results naturally through diet, exercise, eat a couple of bananas and take 2 tbsp of virgin olive oil daily?

Physicians seldom disclose the side effects of the drugs they prescribe.If they did, many of their patients would refuse to take them.Get a copy of the PDR (every library has one) and read about whatever you may be taking.It's frightening.The media eagerly quote those who discount, as worthless, any suggestions that there may be better ways to remain healthy. God forbid they would ever quote Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD who was chairman of the Medical Licensing Committee for the State of Illinois and Associate Professor of Preventative Medicine in the School of Medicine of the University of Illinois.I mean, what could this man possibly know about health?? In his book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic, he is convinced that:

  • Annual physicals are a health risk;
  • Hospitals are a dangerous place for the sick;
  • Most operations do little good and many do harm to the patient while fattening the Doc's wallet!
  • Medical testing laboratories are scandalously inaccurate;
  • Many drugs cause more problems than they cure;
  • The X-ray machine is the most pervasive and dangerous tool in the doctor's office;
  • Prevention is the only key to long term health.

You may want to read this remarkable book from a long time member of the Establishment. It is readily available at most bookstores or your library."

Further Information
A good site to check drug side effects is: http://rxlist.com. This is easier than digging up the PDR mentioned above.
Chris Gupta

Statin Drug Trial Biased Reporting

When considering the results of the statin drug trial conducted by Oxford University 2002, (The Lancet, 360: 9326. 2002) resulting in headlines that 'vitamins are useless' we asked ourselves the following questions:

1. How impartial was the vitamin inclusion in the trial when it was also testing the blood cholesterol-lowering drug Symvastatin with substantial funding by pharmaceutical companies and to what extent did the pharmaceutical companies get the results they paid for?
2. Why did the media just focus on the negative aspects of vitamins, which were admitted to be harmless and not report the risks of taking statin drugs? E.g. statin drugs are known to have caused 52 deaths and 1100 cases of muscle weakness. Also, stopping statins results in a three fold increase in death (www.heartlink.org.uk/headlines200 …2002story4.html).
3. To what extent were the parameters set by the trial valid? E.g., would we expect synthetic vitamin E – with reduced bioavailability and suspected carcinogenesis– 250 mg of vitamin C and 20 mg of beta carotene per day to make a significant difference in the trial group with established atherosclerosis and diabetes? Would we expect vitamins A, C and E alone to reduce death rates in this high risk group?
4. Why was there no reference to evidence that vitamin B3 supports the effect of Simvastatin? (www.heartlink.org.uk/headlines200 …2001story1.html) Does this omission suggest an intent to discredit vitamins?
5. Would we anticipate a more favourable outcome for the vitamins had they been administered with folic acid, vitamins B6, B12, selenium, chromium, magnesium, calcium, coenzyme Q10 and other trace elements, vitamins and cofactors required by the body?
6. Throughout the world millions of testimonials have accumulated over decades of people and animals benefiting from quality nutritional supplements. Hundred of clinical trials have been published in support of the health benefits of antioxidants. How seriously should we take the results of a trial possibly intended to show the benefits of drugs over vitamins?
7. Was this UK trial timed to coincide with the EU directive on supplements, which is intended to restrict the availability of antioxidants?
8. Considering the level of funding made available to universities by the pharmaceutical industry and considering the competition posed to this industry by antioxidants, to what extent are trials entirely trustworthy? Are there 'wheels in motion' behind the media promoting negative publicity on harmless vitamins and positive publicity on drugs?Prescribed drugs have been reported to be the fourth major cause of death after heart disease, cancer and stroke (JAMA, 279: 1200. 1998) possibly higher considering that the vast majority of drug reactions go unreported (Brit.J.Clin. Pharm., 43: 177-181, 1997).

We also asked ourselves if there are any recent reports to contradict the media response to the statin drug trial that 'Vitamin pills have no health benefits' (Daily Mail, 5/7/02).

The Journal of the American Medical Association published two articles 'Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review' and 'Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications.'(JAMA; 287: 3116-3126 & 3127-3129. 2002). The authors, Robert H Fletcher, MD, MSc, and Kathleen M Fairfield, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, reviewed more than 30 years of science papers regarding vitamins in relation to chronic diseases. In the scientific review article, the researchers write that the North American diet is generally sufficient to prevent overt vitamin deficiency diseases such as pellagra, scurvy, and beriberi.However, they explain, "recent evidence has shown that sub-optimal levels of vitamins, even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are associated with increased risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis." In a clinical commentary, they note that "a large proportion of the general population" has less-than-optimal intakes of a number of vitamins, exposing them to increased disease risk. In addition, they counsel that, "it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements."

From the body of evidence they reviewed, they concluded the following:

  • Folate and Vitamins B6 and B12 are required for homocysteine metabolism and are associated with decreased coronary heart disease risk;
  • Folate may decrease the risk of neural tube defects and certain cancers such as colorectal and breast cancers;
  • Vitamin E and lycopene may decrease the risk of prostate cancer;
  • Vitamin D is associated with decreased occurrence of fractures when taken with calcium.

Fletcher and Fairfield advise using, "multivitamins, rather than individual vitamins, because multivitamins are simpler to take and cheaper than the individual vitamins taken separately and because a large proportion of the population needs supplements of more than one vitamin."

We concluded that poor nutrition and poor lifestyle choices have an immediate impact on health and the development of chronic degenerative diseases later in life. It is obvious that most of us receive less-than-optimal intakes of a number of nutrients from our diets – in a USDA survey of 21,500 North Americans not one person obtained the recommended minimum daily allowance of ten essential nutrients. (USDA National Food Consumption Survey – Guthrie & Crochetti, 1982). Supplementation is a convenient and effective way to improve an inadequate diet so whilst it is irresponsible to claim that vitamins will prevent or cure heart disease and cancer it is also irresponsible to claim that vitamins are useless and a waste of money. Properly formulated antioxidant and mineral supplements have well documented health benefits. They can be viewed as a worthwhile form of health insurance reducing the overall risk of disease.

David Ash BSc Nutrition, (Lon) and
Dr Liesbeth Ash MB, ChB, Dip Obst
E: Ddashlash@aol.com

Statin-Induced Cardiomyopathy: Introduction to the Citizen's Petition on Statins

by Peter H. Langsjoen, MD

The medical profession has, after more than 30 years of excellent propaganda, successfully created the wholly iatrogenic – 'pseudo-disease' dubbed 'hypercholesterolaemia' and the associated malady 'cholesterol neurosis'. After decades of dismal failure to cure this 'disease' of numbers with low fat diets and a host of cholesterol lowering drugs, the medical profession stumbled upon the magic bullet, the cure for this dreaded artificial disease – statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors). First released on the US market in 1987, statins have rapidly grown into one of the most widely prescribed class of drugs in history. Statins do three things:

1. They block the body's ability to make cholesterol, thus lowering the blood level of cholesterol, thereby curing cholesterol neurosis. Doctors and patients equally neurotic have immediate gratification. The 'evil' high cholesterol has been dramatically lowered and the future is bright and promising. So far… so good;
2. Unrelated to their cholesterol lowering, statins have been found to have anti-inflammatory, plaque-stabilizing properties which have a slight benefit in coronary heart disease;
3. Statins kill people – lots of people – and they wound many, many more. All patients taking statins become depleted in Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), eventually – those patients who start with a relatively low CoQ10 levels (the elderly and patients with heart failure) begin to manifest signs/symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency relatively rapidly – in 6 to 12 months. Younger, healthier people whose only 'illness' is the non-illness 'hypercholesterolaemia' can tolerate statins for several years before getting into trouble with fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness (usually with normal muscle enzyme CPK tests) and most ominously – heart failure.

In my practice of 17 years in Tyler, Texas, I have seen a frightening increase in heart failure secondary to statin usage, 'statin cardiomyopathy'. Over the past five years, statins have become more potent, are being prescribed in higher doses, and are being used with reckless abandon in the elderly and in patients with 'normal' cholesterol levels. We are in the midst of a CHD epidemic in the US with a dramatic increase over the past decade. Are we causing this epidemic through our zealous use of statins? In large part I think the answer is yes. We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly (Merck & Co, Inc. has two 1990 patents combining CoQ10 with statins to prevent CoQ10 depletion and attendant side effects) created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people, only to then sit back with arrogance and horrific irresponsibility and watch to see what happens. As I see two to three new statin cardiomyopathies per week in my practice, I cannot help but view my once great profession with a mixture of sorrow and contempt.

Statin-induced CoQ10 depletion is the topic of a recent petition to the FDA requesting that this drug/nutrient interaction be identified in a black box warning as part of statin package insert information. A comprehensive review of animal and human trials addressing this issue has been submitted to the FDA as a supporting document. We, of course, do not expect any response from the FDA, but 10 years from now when the full extent of statin toxicity becomes painfully evident, at least we can, in good conscience, know that we tried and who knows, sometimes small sparks may spread in dry grass.

Source:
Dr Uffe Ravnskov, MD PhD;
E: uffe.ravnskov@swipnet.se

See Also:
Cholesterol Drugs And The Depletion Of Coenzyme Q10: A Review Of Human And Animal Data. by Peter H. Langsjoen, MD
W: www.redflagsweekly.com/features/2002_july08.html

Treatment Options for Cancer Patients

Thank you for publishing Patricia Peat's excellent and thorough article, summing up the many options open to newly diagnosed cancer patients – just the kind of information that can make the difference between despair and hope, helplessness and responsible self-help.

Since the author briefly mentioned the Gerson Therapy and included my book in the bibliography, your readers may be interested to know that both Dr Max Gerson's own book and full information about the therapy can be obtained from The Gerson Support Group, P.O.B.74, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 7JA. (Please send SAE).

Beata Bishop
E: beatabishop@clara.co.uk

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