Why You Can’t Trust Most Studies on Health

That’s the title of an article I read recently. (It’s possible you may need to subscribe to this, if you can’t read it, but it’s a free subscription.) It is definitely food for thought! Basically, the author makes the argument that a lot of times drug companies directly or indirectly sponsor the research on drugs, and not surprisingly release studies that show good results from taking their drugs the majority of the time.

When researchers from the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City examined four journals — American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology — they found drugs were favored in roughly:

• Eight out of 10 studies funded by the company that makes the drug.

• Five out of 10 studies not funded by industry.

• Three out of 10 studies conducted by competitors of the drug’s maker.

That’s why it’s important to look at both sides of the argument before you make your decision.

Even more interesting (and the main reason why I’m including this link), was a comment after the article about selenium and vitamin E for reducing the risk of cancer:

The latest example is the recently halted SELECT ((SELenium and vitamin ECancer prevention Trial)study funded by the National Cancer Institute.  After two previous studies indicated a remarkable effectiveness in preventing prostate cancer for both selenium and Vitamin E, the NIH designed a new and much publicized study, but then halted it when it amazingly found no benefits at all, and possibly even slight risks for increased prostate cancer as well as diabetes.

Just one catch – the form of Vitamin E used was an unnatural petroleum derived synthetic and the form of selenium was obtained from a by product of commercial ore mining.

Some scientists and doctors would have you believe that Vitamin E is Vitamin E is Vitamin E. But a lot of people in the health food industry — and a lot of “regular folks” don’t believe that. Look at the synthetic form of oxytocin (Pitocin), which is used in so many births to either induce or augment labor, as an example of natural and synthetic being different. Although the compounds are basically identical, for some reason the artificial oxytocin cannot cross into the brain to give you the “oxytocin high” or the feelings that natural oxytocin generates, although it can stimulate uterine contractions just as well as (or better than — sometimes with disastrous results) natural oxytocin. In normal labor, as the level of oxytocin increases, your contractions increase in frequency, duration, and/or intensity, and your ability to cope with it does too (oxytocin is also the “bonding” hormone your body releases during breastfeeding and also orgasms, in case you want to have an idea what natural oxytocin is capable of apart from contractions). In an induced or augmented labor, the artificial oxytocin increases, which causes the contractions to increase in frequency, duration, and/or intensity, but your natural ability to cope with the increasing pain (similar to a “runner’s high”, when the endorphins kick in and allow one to keep on going and finish the race) just isn’t there, because it isn’t the natural stuff. It just doesn’t work the same way — although it should, because it is supposed to be the same stuff.

In the same way, it’s possible (and I think, very likely), that it does make a difference whether Vitamin E, selenium, and all other substances that are tested are natural and/or high-quality. I’ve heard that there is a great difference between the different types of Vitamin E (and forgive me that I can’t remember, but I think people “in the know” like the dl-alpha-tocopherol, and not the d-alpha-tocopherol… or something that looks equally similar). Just as natural oxytocin can give you a wonderfully peaceful feeling, and synthetic oxytocin cannot, it makes perfect sense that naturally-occuring vitamin E, selenium, and other substances can be health-promoting, while the synthetic versions may be poor substitutes at best and health-demoting at worst.



One Response

  1. I am amazed how many people take vitamins but think it’s just fine to buy them at Costco or GNC. I’ve been taking vitamins for over 15 years and I wouldn’t dare put anything into my body that I didn’t know exactly what it is made from. I’ve been buying Shaklee since I was in college. I remember the vitamin test at my first introductory workshop about it – they took Flintstones, One-a-Day, and Shaklee and put them in the oven. Black tar oozed out of the Flintstones and the One-a-Day. It was frightening. The other test was the water soluable test – putting them in a glass of water. Shaklee dissolved right away and the others just sat there. No wonder waste workers report seeing thousands of whole vitamins floating in our sewers – they are never absorbed into the body! Great information. Thanks!!

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