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Letters to the Editor Issue 81

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 81 - October 2002

More EU Supplement and Herbal Directives

Drugs Law Is Bitter Pill For Health Shops

Representatives of Britain's 2,000 health shops have been told in Brussels that there is now no chance of stopping an EU directive which will close most of them down. This is because it is part of an avalanche of EU legislation which is being 'fast-tracked' to give eastern European countries a chance to comply with it before they join an enlarged Union. There are several odd features about this 'Herbal Medicines Products' directive, for which pharmaceutical companies have been lobbying behind the scenes for years. Although it is a British initiative, championed by our Medicines Control Agency, it seeks to apply to herbal remedies the principle of continental law that things can only be allowed when they are specifically authorised. This reverses the British tradition that everything is allowed unless specifically prohibited.

Under the directive such herbal remedies as Hypericum, Rhodiola and Echinacea, used by five million people in Britain for a wide range of conditions, could only be sold if they had been through the MCA's prohibitively expensive licensing procedures. Thousands of safe herbal products will thus have to be removed from the market, which is why many health shops will be forced to close. What makes this even odder is that the MCA tried it on before, when in 1994 it proposed a statutory instrument which it claimed was necessary to implement a 1965 Brussels directive, passed three years before Britain's Medicines Act specifically exempted herbal medicines from licensing requirements. When the European Commission explained that this was not what the directive intended, the MCA was told, after heated discussion in Cabinet, to drop its proposal. Now seven years later, the MCA has got its way, by successfully lobbying for an EU directive. There are no health reasons for banning the 3,000 herbal preparations currently on sale in Britain. Almost all adverse reactions linked to herbal remedies (infinitely fewer than those due to synthetic drugs made by pharmaceutical firms) are caused by preparations made up by Chinese practitioners. These are specifically exempted from the directive.

Source: Most Of Europe's Health Supplement Stores Will Be Shut Down.
By Christopher Booker.  The Telegraph 21-7-02
Via: Jane Jones
Further Information
The Silent majority

Vitamins for All


US Delegation to the CODEX Convention Elizabeth Yetley, PhD
Re: Objections To US Draft Positions (July, 2002) Codex Committee On Nutrition & Foods For Special Dietary Uses.

While I have already written a letter to the US CODEX delegation expressing my concerns over the establishment of upper limits for nutrients in food supplements, I have just obtained a copy of the Draft Positions of the US Codex delegation and wish to make additional open comment on them.

The US delegation to CODEX is commissioned to develop draft positions regarding vitamin and mineral supplements. While the Draft document addresses other topics, I confine my comment to vitamin and mineral supplements defined as "sources in concentrated forms of those nutrients alone or in combinations, marketed in capsules, tablets, powders, solutions, etc., not in conventional food form."

The US draft position states that "The United States supports consumer choice and access to dietary supplements that are safe and are labelled in a truthful and non-misleading manner." The undefined term here is "safe". No explanation is given for the meaning of safe. Does this refer to morbidity and mortality? Does this include trivial or passing symptoms which occur from time to time with almost any medicine or supplement, such as nausea, transient diarrhoea, headache, etc.? Will the consumer be able to distinguish minor or transient side effects from lethal or irreversible effects (i.e. liver toxicity). Since any substance can produce undesirable side effects if taken in a large enough dose (water, salt, spices, etc.), there is no such thing as absolute safety. So the CODEX guideline needs to be more specific and address "relative safety".

As previously stated, food supplements are safer than chlorinated tap water, acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen, iron-fortified cereals, aspartame sweetener, and cow's milk, all which are sold over-the-counter without a statement regarding upper safe limits.

As has been stated in previous communication with the US CODEX delegation, there is an assumption that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Exactly what are the documented side effects of food supplements consumed in high doses and what is their incidence in the general population? Is CODEX protecting two percent of the mega-dose vitamin E users from headaches, or what? Would the establishment of an 'upper limit' be expected to eliminate or just reduce the occurrence of side effects?

The CODEX Draft notes that the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements will not, in any way, adversely affect the availability of safe and truthfully labelled supplement products in the US marketplace or to US consumers. While this sentence is encouraging to consumers of food supplements, it is incomplete. There are other concerns regarding the effect of CODEX.

The very establishment of upper limits on food supplements would likely scare away consumers from these products at a time when conventional medicine is beginning to warm up to the idea of the value of food supplements for health promotion. The first press releases issued upon the establishment of upper limits are likely to create a mistaken belief that food supplements are relatively unsafe. Consumers are likely to assume that since, let's say 2000 mg of vitamin C is the upper safe limit, that 2000 mg is the toxic level and they should consume far less so as to never experience side effects. In fact, if 2000 mg were established as a relatively safe upper limit, it would likely have a safety margin built into it. Exceeding the upper limit may produce no side effects whatsoever in a majority of consumers. The consumer will probably not be told that the upper limit is the lower threshold for side effects. I have observed adults who have never taken vitamin C supplements experience diarrhoea at doses as low as 500 mg.

The CODEX Draft states "Maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in vitamin and mineral supplements per daily portion of consumption as recommended by the manufacturer should take the following criteria into account: (a) upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals established by scientific risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, taking into consideration, as appropriate, the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups." Just how would CODEX address the variable nutritional needs of humans of mixed genetic and environmental backgrounds? Excessive folic acid may mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, but fertile women who seek motherhood need extra folic acid (some experts say up to 2000 mcg) to reduce the risk of birth defects in their offspring. So is the caveat to be aware of a masked B12 deficiency to be discarded for women who take mega-dose folic acid? An upper limit of 2000 IU for vitamin D has been proposed. How would that accommodate blacks living in northern climates (near the Canadian border) whose skin pigmentation reduces the production of vitamin D from sunlight?

Self care of illness and disease may be inappropriately discouraged by the establishment of a safe upper limit. While self care is not likely to be promoted by any health professionals, frankly many consumers have no health insurance or suffer with disorders for which conventional medicine has no answers. The fact is that informed consumers who seek alternatives to the physician-promoted pharmaceutical drugs may not be able to obtain food supplements in convenient or cost-effective doses for the self care of disease if upper safe limits are established. For reasons of liability, manufacturers of food supplements are likely to steer clear of providing vitamins and minerals in doses that exceed the upper limit. Thus consumers who wish or need to consume food supplements in mega doses may experience increased costs to obtain nutrients in small-dose pills. The products would be available, but just not convenient nor affordable.

The CODEX Draft states:"Supplements of some nutrients, such as vitamin A and selenium, can be harmful if taken in large amounts." This statement is again misleading if not a falsehood. Vitamin A is potentially toxic to the liver, but this problem only occurs in about 30 to 40 cases a year while millions of Americans are believed to be deficient in vitamin A. Selenium is potentially toxic, but selenium poisoning has only occurred in artificial circumstances such as when strip mining exposed mineral beds and increased elemental mineral levels in drinking water. Organically-bound selenium provided in plant foods (i.e. garlic) has never been demonstrated to be toxic regardless of dose. CODEX advocates science-based review of supplements but offers examples which are inaccurate and disparaging.

The CODEX Draft states that "Some people need a vitamin-mineral supplement to meet specific nutrient needs." This sentence needs to be changed to "most if not all people at some stage of their life will need vitamin-mineral supplements to meet specific nutrient needs."

Growing children would be less healthy if we did not already fortify our overly-processed foods. All childbearing women require supplemental nutrition. All older adults are at greater risk for age-related disease and malabsorption and should supplement their diet. All full-grown males need to chelate iron from their system to avoid iron overload. Recent studies indicate 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, 40% short on vitamin B12, 80% deficient in magnesium, 80% deficient in essential fatty acids and the entire human population suffers from a genetic failure to produce an enzyme that naturally produces vitamin C.

How can it be said in the CODEX Draft that "Most people who have access to a balanced diet can usually obtain all the nutrients they require from their normal diet. Because foods contain many substances that promote health, people should therefore be encouraged to select a balanced diet from food before considering any vitamin and mineral supplement. In cases where the diet is insufficient or where consumers consider their diet requires supplementation, vitamin and mineral supplements serve to supplement the daily diet". This statement is out of date and patently untrue. Even the American Medical Association has now published reports which advocate multivitamin usage for the population at large. This is further evidence that CODEX is currently out of step with a rapidly changing body of nutritional science.

The CODEX Draft says: "The absence of science-based Codex guidelines, however, could adversely affect the ability of US manufacturers to compete in the international marketplace." How so? This sentence goes unexplained. There are no CODEX guidelines in force today and manufacturers are not impeded from entering the international marketplace. Is this another non-problem in search of a fix? Please explain.

Are we to assume that if an upper safe limit is established by the world community, and US CODEX does not agree, that US manufacturers would be at some disadvantage? All US manufacturers need do is reduce the dosage in their products to comply with foreign requirements, which is hardly much of an inconvenience. This would likely result in higher-dose US products being coveted by the overseas market. This is the case today where Canada and various European countries limit the types or dosage of food supplements. Foreign travellers in the USA often purchase loads of food supplements to bring home. The US-made products are coveted, not rejected by consumers. It is only the foreign governments, largely influenced by pharmaceutical interests, which inhibit a free market.

The CODEX Draft states: "In the spirit of the protection of international fair trade practices and the science-based resolution of international trade disputes, we support the development of CODEX guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements that do not unduly limit consumer access to safe and truthfully labelled dietary supplement products." It becomes clear here that CODEX addresses commercial interests over that of consumer needs. This sentence does not indicate consumer needs supersede those of commercial interests.

The CODEX Draft states: "The selection of vitamin and mineral sources should be based upon considerations such as safety and bioavailability." This sentence again requires further explanation. According to the Food & Drug Administration, food supplement manufacturers are prohibited from making statements that their products are safe or effective. Are consumers to assume nutritional supplements are relatively safe if taken in lower doses, or toxic if taken in higher doses? Furthermore, there is no current requirement for nutritional products to list 'bioavailability' on their label. How would a consumer understand 'bioavailability?'

The CODEX Draft states that "The minimum level of each vitamin and/or mineral in a vitamin and mineral supplement per daily portion of consumption as suggested by the manufacturer should be 15 percent of the recommended daily intake as determined by FAO/WHO." Otherwise the supplement will not be considered a significant source of a particular nutrient. To amplify the above statement, the CODEX Draft goes on to say: "Maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in vitamin and mineral supplements per daily portion of consumption as recommended by the manufacturer should take the following criteria into account the daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources." This statement requires additional explanation. The problem here is that the recommended daily intake is comprised of the amount obtained from the diet and supplements. For example, the recommended daily consumption of calcium is 1200 mg for adults. The dairy-rich American diet provides approximately 800 mg of calcium on average with a significant portion of the population already consuming sufficient amounts (1200 mg+) of calcium from the diet.

Ten percent of the daily calcium requirement, or 120 mg, would not be considered a significant amount under the proposed guideline of 15% of the daily requirement. However, the difference between the average daily consumption, 800 mg, and the recommended intake, 1200 mg, is only about 400 mg. The 400 mg gap would be the suggested amount for dietary supplementation. The consumption of 120 mg of supplemental calcium would make up for 30 percent of the shortage between 800 and 1200 mg. Thus 120 mg of calcium in this example would provide a significant amount of this mineral. Just 60 mg of calcium would meet the 15 percent requirement outlined in the CODEX draft.

The CODEX Draft states that "All labels should bear a statement that the supplement should be taken on the advice of a nutritionist, a dietician or a medical doctor." Is this provision going to result in sanctions against any untrained person who recommends a nutritional supplement to a family member or friend? In some other countries there is restriction of free speech as the public faces certain sanctions if they speak out on the health benefits of food supplements. Does CODEX promote a guideline that suggests only the elite-class of trained nutritionists can offer advice on the use of food supplements? Would this CODEX provision inhibit or prohibit answers to consumer question by sales clerks at health food stores?

The CODEX Draft states: "The label should contain a warning statement, if the product contains an amount of a nutrient that has been shown through science-based risk assessment to be a health hazard under conditions of use." Does this mean that any product that provides an amount of a nutrient that exceeds the safe upper limit will now have to carry a warning statement? What if the nutrient poses potential hazards within the established safe range? For example, take iron. Iron is a potentially toxic supplemental nutrient for full-grown males. It accumulates in males beginning at the age of physical maturation (about age 18) at about 1 mg per day of life and worsens all forms of infection and disease and leads to the early demise of males compared to females. Supplemental iron, provided in a "safe dosage range" could still be considered to be problematic. It is unlikely there will be sufficient space on the product label to include such a lengthy explanation.

The CODEX Draft states: "These guidelines are intended to ensure a high level of protection and to facilitate informed choice for consumers of vitamin and mineral supplements." The misinformation and non-specific guidelines in the CODEX Draft provide contrary evidence to the above statement. Under the guise of protection, food supplements in certain doses will be branded as toxic when this is far from fact. The misinformation and lack of knowledge displayed in the CODEX Draft of July, 2002 is enough to call for the resignation and replacement of the current US delegate to CODEX and a revision of the members of the CODEX delegation to include parties who are more up to date in their knowledge of this important subject.

Bill Sardi
Knowledge of Health, Inc.
Tel: 909-596 9507 Fax: 909-596 9189;
E: W:

Antioxidants Against Disease: Evaluating Current Research

As shown in the Research updates, a recent study published in the July 6, 2002 issue of The Lancet found that among the high-risk individuals studied, antioxidant vitamins appeared safe, but did not produce any significant reductions in the 5-year mortality from, or incidents of, any type of vascular disease, cancer, or other major disease outcome.

* The findings were that giving antioxidants to people who already have heart disease or strong risk factors appears to be of little or no benefit in preventing further heart attacks or strokes. However, that research does not invalidate the strong epidemiological evidence for the benefits of antioxidants in the primary prevention of heart disease in the general healthy population, when taken consistently for long periods of time.
* With regard to cancer, the 5-year treatment period in this study was not adequate for a cancer prevention study, because a large body of research, including animal and mechanistic studies, has shown that antioxidants are most likely to be effective in early stage cancer initiation, and most cancers have at least a 10 to 20 year development phase. Any subjects diagnosed with cancer during the study must have had the cancer well established before treatment began.
* The 20,536 subjects were selected to include those with previous history of heart disease or strong risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes or hypertension. The subjects were selected to exclude those with diagnosed cancer. Therefore, the study was basically for heart disease secondary prevention (to avoid another cardiac event) but for cancer primary prevention (to prevent cancer from occurring).
* The conclusions warranted by this study are that the treatments did not reduce the adverse outcomes in subjects who had a previous history of heart disease or major risk factors for it and that they did not reduce the risk of cancer during a 5-year period, a time that is likely to be insufficient.
* The nature of scientific process means that research rarely proceeds in a straight line from a hypothesis to a firm conclusion. Many different groups of researchers test different levels and different combinations of antioxidants against a variety of disease conditions, using different populations, in studies lasting from a few weeks to many years. Eventually a scientific consensus emerges regarding the strength of the evidence for or against a particular nutrient/disease relationship.
* At any point in time, the balance of the evidence can be evaluated. Each new study takes its rightful place within the available body of evidence, but a single study may or may not change the overall picture.
* As seen in the report below from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, some intervention studies, including the 1996 CHAOS study from Great Britain and the 2000 SPACE study from Israel, as well as major epidemiological studies, have shown beneficial effects of antioxidant vitamins relating to heart disease.

Antioxidants And Heart Disease
Prepared by Annette Dickinson, PhD
Council for Responsible Nutrition

Major studies in people who already had heart disease or strong risk factors

ATBC, Finland, 1994:
No effect on heart disease.
50 mg vitamin E and 20 mg beta-carotene.
Six year intervention in almost 30,000 heavy smokers.

CHAOS, Britain, 1996
POSITIVE. 75% reduction in nonfatal heart attack.
400 to 800 mg vitamin E.
1000 men with heart disease.

GISSI, Italy, 1999:
No significant effect on heart disease for vitamin E.
300 mg vitamin E.
Over three years of treatment in over 11,000 patients who had survived a recent heart attack.
(Omega-3 fatty acids had protective effect for cardiovascular death, nonfatal heart attack, and stroke.)

SPACE, Israel, 2000:
POSITIVE. Protective effect against nonfatal heart attack.
Protective effect against death from cardiovascular disease.
800 IU vitamin E.
Two year intervention in 200 patients with endstage renal disease.

HOPE, Canada, 2000:
No effect on heart disease.
400 IU natural vitamin E.
Four to six year intervention in over 2500 women and almost 7000 men over 55 years of age with heart disease or diabetes.

PPP, Italy, 2001 No effect on heart disease for vitamin E.

300 mg vitamin E.
Three to six year intervention in 4500 people with at least one major risk factor for heart disease.
(The trial also included low dose aspirin, which did lower the incidence of cardiovascular events and deaths.)

HPS, Britain, 2002:

No effect on heart disease.
600 mg vitamin E, 250 mg vitamin C, 20 mg beta-carotene.
Five year intervention in 20,000 people with heart disease.

Major Epidemiological Studies in Healthy Populations

Stampfer, United States, 1993: In a study of more than 87,000 nurses, those who took vitamin E for more than two years had a 41 percent lower risk of heart disease;
Rimm, United States, 1993: In a study of almost 40,000 male health professionals, those who had taken vitamin E for more than two years had a 37 percent lower risk of heart disease;
Losonczy, United States, 1996: In a study of 11,000 elderly people, those who used both vitamin C and vitamin E supplements had a 53 percent lower risk of mortality from heart disease;
Kushi, Iowa, 1996: In a study of more than 34,000 postmenopausal women in Iowa, those with high dietary intakes of vitamin E had a 68 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Relatively few used vitamin E supplements;
Muntwyler, United States, 2002: In a study of more than 83,000 male physicians, use of multivitamins, vitamin E, or vitamin C did not significantly decrease mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin E and Heart Disease, Expert Opinion

Fairfield and Fletcher, 2002: In a review article, recommended a multivitamin for most adults. With regard to vitamin E in particular, recognized that vitamin E "does not substantially decrease cardiovascular mortality, at least when taken throughout a period of a few years by patients with known coronary artery disease or who are at high risk. However, the observational studies showing a protective effect of vitamin E were all among lower-risk populations, and there are no trial data from similar populations. Vitamin E may still be useful in primary prevention when taken throughout long periods."
Willett and Stampfer, 2001: In an opinion article in NEJM, recommended multivitamins for most adults. "We also believe that vitamin E supplements are reasonable for most middle-aged and older Americans who are at increased risk for coronary disease." They suggest a level of 400 IU, with annual review as more information becomes available.
Jialal, Devaraj and Traber, 2001: Reviewed evidence on vitamin E and heart disease and concluded that "the totality of evidence based on the epidemiological data, in-vitro studies and animal models, and the clinical trials appears to support a benefit for alpha-tocopherol [vitamin E] supplementation…"
Pryor, 2000: Concluded in a review article that there is sufficient evidence on vitamin E and heart disease "to recommend modest vitamin E supplementation (100 to 400 IU per day) as part of a general program of heart-healthy behavior that includes a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet and regular exercise."
Steinberg, 2000: Posed the question, "Is there a potential therapeutic role for vitamin E or other antioxidants in atherosclerosis." His answer was, "Probably, but it is too soon to say."

ATBC (The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group). The effect of vitamin E and beta-carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. New Engl J Med 330:1029-1035. 1994.
CHAOS Study: Stephens NG, Parsons A, Schofield PM, et al. Randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in patients with coronary disease: Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS). Lancet 347:781-786. 1996.
Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. J Am Med Assn 287:3116-3126. 2002.
Fletcher RH, Fairfield KM. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications. J Am Med Assn 287:3127-3129. 2002.
GISSI Study: GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Lancet 354:447-455. 1999.
HOPE (The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation Study Investigators). Vitamin E supplementation and cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. New Engl J Med 342:154-160. 2000.
HPS (Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group). MRC/BHF heart protection study of antioxidant vitamin supplementation in 20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 360:23-33. 2002.
Jialal I, Traber M, Devaraj S. Is there a vitamin E paradox? Curr Opin Lipidol 12:49-53. 2001.
Kushi LH, Folsom AR, Prineas RJ, et al. Dietary antioxidant vitamins and death from coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. N Engl J Med 334:1156-1162. 1996.
Losonczy KG, Harris TB, Havlik RJ. Vitamin E and vitamin C supplement use and risk of all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality in older persons: the established populations for epidemiologic studies of the elderly. Am J Clin Nutr 64:190-196. 1996.
Muntwyler J, Hennekens CH, Manson JE, Buring JE, Gaziano JM. Vitamin supplement use in a low-risk population of U.S. male physicians and subsequent cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med 162:1472-1476. 2002.
PPP (Primary Prevention Project). Low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in people at cardiovascular risk: a randomized trial in general practice. Lancet 357:89-95. 2001.
Pryor WA. Vitamin E and heart disease: basic science to clinical intervention trials. Free Rad Biol & Med 28:141-164. 2000.
Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Ascherio A, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. New Engl J Med 328:1450-1456. 1993.
SPACE Study: Boaz M, Smetana S, Weinstein T, Matas Z, Gafter U, Iaina A, Knecht A, Weissgarten Y, Brunner D, Fainaru M, Green MS. Secondary prevention with antioxidants of cardiovascular disease in endstage renal disease (SPACE): randomized placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 356:1213-1218. 2000.
Stampfer MJ, Hennekens CH, Manson JE, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. New Engl J Med 328:1444-1449. 1993.
Steinberg D. Is there a potential therapeutic role for vitamin E or other antioxidants in atherosclerosis? Curr Opin Lipidol 11:603-607. 2000.
Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. What vitamins should I be taking, doctor? NEJM 345:1819-1823. 2001.

Some Leading Antioxidants Experts
Bruce Ames, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA
Gladys Block, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA
Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston, MA
Balz Frei, Ph.D., Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Ishwarlal (Kenny) Jialal, M.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Simin Meydani, Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston, MA
Lester Packer, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA
Kedar Prasad, Ph.D., Colorado Health Science Center, Denver, CO
Maret Traber, Ph.D., Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Walter Willett, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Further Information
A new report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition compiling a decade's worth of scientifically significant research on nutritional supplements, including antioxidants, provides a number of specific examples of the research on antioxidants and disease prevention. To read the report, The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements, visit

Elwood Richard:

Medical McCarthyism: Experts Dispute Opposition to Dietary Fat

The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, a steadily growing group of scientists, physicians, other academicians and science writers from various countries, are questioning the common dogma that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Not only is there no proof to support this hypothesis, says spokesman Dr Uffe Ravnskov, Lund, Sweden, but the available scientific evidence clearly contradicts this claim.

Diabetes and obesity are clearly significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other health problems and the group is concerned about the rapidly increasing incidence of these disorders in Western countries, especially in adolescents and even children.

In his New York Times article entitled "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie" (July 7, 2002), respected science writer Gary Taubes has echoed our opinion, says Ravnskov, that the current epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes is very likely the result of low fat/high carbohydrate diets vigorously promoted by governmental health authorities over the past few decades. Under any circumstances it is abundantly clear that existing dietary recommendations have failed miserably and should be carefully re-examined in the light of these developments, if not consequences.

However, instead of an objective investigation and analysis, there have only been desperate but futile attempts to defend reputations and save face. Vicious attacks have been directed towards Dr Robert Atkins, a cardiologist who for decades has recommended a diet that goes counter to the official guidelines. The main objection has been that his diet has not been proven in scientific trials. By using this argument, however, his opponents have inadvertently exposed the weakness of their own case.

Most revealing, says Ravnskov, is the accumulated evidence from nine dietary trials, presented by a group of British researchers in the 31 March, 2001 issue of British Medical Journal. Their analysis showed that not a single life has been saved by dietary changes that went far beyond the official recommendations.

Dr Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, is the spokesman for the ongoing longest-running, most comprehensive diet and health study ever performed that involves nearly 300,000 subjects. As he recently noted, data from this study clearly contradict the low-fat-is-good-health message, and "the idea that all fat is bad for you; the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic.'' The proponents of the cholesterol campaign have never told the public about the huge weight of contradictory evidence. Instead, the mantras about 'dangerous' dietary animal fat and cholesterol continue. For instance, unaffected by available evidence, Dr Robert O Bonow, president of the American Heart Association, stated in a recent press release protesting Gary Taubes' New York Times article that, "There is strong scientific evidence that a diet high in saturated-fat increases the risk of heart disease and stroke". For obvious reasons, he failed to provide references to support this statement.

Even worse, to defend the official view, authoritative spokesmen often misquote scientific studies hoping that nobody will bother to check their references. In an attempt to discredit a prior article by Gary Taubes in Science Magazine (The Soft Science of Dietary Fat, 30 March 2001), Dr Scott Grundy, one of the main architects of the National Cholesterol Education Program, claimed that the significance of saturated fatty acids has been demonstrated by an enormous number of high-quality studies, referring to a review that included thirteen references that allegedly supported his statement (Science Magazine 3 August, 2001).

But in a letter to the editor (Science Magazine 22 February 2002) members of the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics showed that these studies either did not address the question of saturated fatty acids, or the studies did not find any association, or they directly contradicted Grundy's statement. Critics of Taubes' article who cite Grundy to support their stance have deplorably chosen to ignore or investigate this criticism even though it appeared in the same journal.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a vegan propaganda group headed by Dr Neal Barnard, recently listed a number of serious diseases that they claimed could be produced by eating too much protein (see and even implied that clinicians who prescribed a high-protein and fat diet may be putting themselves at risk of a law suit.

"These varied scare tactics designed to appeal to emotions and generate unwarranted fears in addressing a serious health problem," says Dr Ravnskov, "Are reminiscent of an American senator who used all means including slander, threats, innuendo and false allegations to promote his agenda. History tells us that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. There is too much at stake here for us to make this error since we may be sentencing future generations to the health hazards associated with obesity and diabetes." The undersigned representatives of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics strongly believe it is imperative to immediately review current official dietary recommendations and that this analysis should be conducted in an objective, unbiased manner based on scientific evidence, rather than suppositions and speculations.


Christian B. Allan, Ph.D. Co-author with Wolfgang Lutz of Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life (McGraw Hill/NTC Publishing; 2000).
Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP; Hawaii, USA. Author of Diet and Heart Disease: Its NOT What You Think (Whitman Books; 2001).
Mary Enig, PhD, FACN, Silver Spring, USA. Author of Know Your Fats (Bethesda Publishing; 2001).
Eric Freedland, MD, Consulting Editor, Metabolic Syndrome & Related Disorders, Buffalo, NY 5. Barry Groves, PhD; Independent researcher; Oxford, UK. Author of Eat Fat, Get Thin (Vermillion Publishing; 1999).
Joel M. Kauffman; PhD, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia,USA.
Malcolm Kendrick, MbChB, MRCGP, Medical Director Adelphi Lifelong Learning. Macclesfield, UK
Peter H. Langsjoen, MD, FACC, Tyler, Texas, USA, Executive & Scientific Committee of the International CoQ10 Association.
James McCormick, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. Co-author with Petr Skrabanek of Follies and Fallacies in Medicine.
Kilmer S. McCully, MD, Associate Professor of Pathology, Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Boston Area Consolidated Laboratories, USA. Author of The Heart Revolution (HarperCollins; 1999).
Dag Viljen Poleszynski; MS, PhD, Professor in Nutrition and Orthomolecular Medicine, Harstad College, Norway 12. Uffe Ravnskov; MD, PhD; Independent researcher, Lund, Sweden. Author of The Cholesterol Myths (New Trends Publishing, Washington 2000).
Paul J. Rosch; MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry; New York Medical College. President, The American Institute of Stress; New York, USA
Ragnhild Rønneberg, PhD, Adviser to the Research Council of Norway; Oslo, Norway.
Morley C. Sutter, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Jan Wilske, MD, PhD, Chief, Section for General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Haderslev Hospital, Haderslev, Denmark
Nicolai Worm; PhD, Berg, Germany. Author of Syndrom X oder ein Mammut auf den Teller (Systemed Verlag, Lünen 2002).

Contacts: The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
Paul J. Rosch, MD, New York, USA. Tel:+1-914 963-1200;
Barry Groves, PhD, Oxford, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1993 830974;
Uffe Ravnskov, MD, Lund, Sweden. Tel: +46-(0) 46145022 or +46-(0) 44352086;

Source: Stephen Byrnes:

Belgium Prohibits Fluoride Supplements

Fluoride tablets, fluoride drops and fluoride chewing gum, for decades promoted as the crown jewels of dentistry, are going to be taken off the market because they are poisonous and pose a great risk for physical and psychological health. This has been decided by the Federal Minister of Public Health Magda Aelvoet. As soon as the royal decision is published in the government's Staatsblad, the prohibition will become valid. Thus Belgium becomes the first country in the world to prohibit fluoride supplements.

In a report from 1999, UNICEF complained that certain governments knew insufficiently how poisonous fluoride is – especially for children, as their young organism absorbs more fluoride than an adults'. In the same year HUMO wrote a dossier about the dangers of fluoride (Humo Nr.17/33059, April 20, 1999). We got a lot of reaction at the time, particularly from dentists who, though undoubtedly with good faith, echoed the arguments of fluoride-adaptors. Then it became quiet around this question again.

But the usefulness of fluoride has been doubted worldwide for a long time already. Over the years at least 12 Nobel Prize winners in Medicine and Chemistry have warned of the associated health risks. To make children take fluoride is not only useless against caries, it is plainly dangerous.

Tooth and bone decalcification as a result of fluoride even has a name – fluorosis. Fluoride is very reactive and it goes deep into the bones and cells where it is accumulated. Yes, the tooth surface becomes much harder, but the tooth itself becomes more brittle. From a lot of research it seems that fluoride causes joint problems, skeletal deformations, osteoporosis, and that it can even cause bone cancer. Also the brain cannot escape from it. Fluoride has a negative influence on the nervous system and the immune system, and in children it can lead to (chronic) fatigue, a lower IQ, learning disabilities, lethargy and depression.

Gone & Rich

Sodium fluoride, which is used in the so-called food supplements, is 80 times more poisonous than the natural occurring calcium fluoride, with which it is often confused even by medical professionals. And – not unimportantly – it is a poisonous waste product of the aluminum and artificial fertilizer industry. Multinationals, like Exxon, US Steel and Alcoa, can get rid of their waste totally legally, and they even get rich from it. Especially in the US does the fluoride lobby everything to add more fluoride to the drinking water. And who has President Bush nominated as Minister of Finance? Paul O'Neill, head of Alcoa, the biggest aluminum producer in the world.

The industry will follow with Argus-eyes what the effects will be of the decision by the Belgian green minister. Aelvoet has proposed to the European Commission to prohibit fluoride supplements in all of the European Union, but the Commission thought it was a bit too early: the ban was put on the slow track in expectation that the issue would be 'harmonized'. Thus for now Belgium is on its own, but experience teaches that if one of the members prohibits a dangerous material, the rest of Europe reluctantly follows suit.

Nevertheless, the industry can still get rid of its toxic garbage: fluoride toothpaste, fluoride mouth rinse, fluoride floss, and even toothpicks with fluoride are not under the scope of the ban. And the dentists are still allowed to smear fluoride onto the teeth of children – how risky this is. The American researcher Dr Phyllis Mullenix has demonstrated that the same treatment in test animals causes the fluoride levels in the bloodstream to rise to such a degree that the animals within the hour displayed behaviour disturbances. On top of this, there exist all kinds of dental filling materials with fluoride which continuously leaches into the mouth. Dentists use such materials to fill cavities in children's teeth. It is a hallucinatory practice when you know that fluoride is only slightly less toxic than arsenic.

Chris Vermeire and Peter Cremers
Source: Josef Hasslberger;
Posted with permission
Translation by Atma Kaur Fleerackers and Andreas Schuld © 2002 HUME Translation © 2002 PFPC, HUME


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