Misleading and Questionable Studies

by Warren Matthews of Xtend-Life

We have had a number of emails over the last couple of weeks from concerned customers about a recent ‘news’ report that suggested that men who take a large number of supplements are increasing their risk of contracting prostate cancer. Here is one such report. http://www.medicaln...ews.php?newsid=71142

The following email from Jason is typical of these emails when he says:

“Wow, I am actually a little scared now, and am seriously considering unsubscribing from your program. I pop the total balance 7×6=42 times a week! On top of that I am also taking Male Rejuvenator, Neuro-Natural Serenity, Omega-3, Cholest-Natural, and Natural Energy — mostly in the hopes of avoiding prostate cancer. Concerned, and curious of your thoughts”

Because I am sure that many men would feel the same as Jason I felt that it was appropriate to address this issue at length. So, here I go.

Firstly, here is a copy of a preliminary email that I sent to Jason before we researched this particular news item further.

“ Hi Jason,

These types of reports are published in the media much too frequently. They tend to be incredibly misleading. I have yet to see one of these studies actually be representative of the headlines preceding their announcement. I am sure that this one will prove to be no exception.

I will ask Joanna our medical nutritionist check it out and then get back to you.

In the meantime here are a few comments that you might find interesting.

1. Did you know that the pharmaceutical cartel actually commission a number of PR firms to do nothing else but to find negative studies, even poorly designed and misleading studies that discredit natural products? These PR companies are very successful at distributing and getting media coverage for ‘news items’ that are so far off the mark that they should never have seen the light of day. Large sums of money are spent behind the scenes fuelling this type of negative publicity.

This is one of the factord why you find a poor study in an obscure journal all of a sudden becomes headlines around the world

2. It is possible that if you take some nutrients in excess and on their own that you could increase the risk of creating an imbalance in your body which in turn could ultimately lead to cancer. This is one thing that this study also acknowledges and which we have always maintained.

3. Although you are taking quite a few supplements the totals are still less than what I take each week. The supplements are undoubtedly a major factor in my good health and why I have an excellent prostate profile.

We do not advocate high doses of any specific ingredient but rather we do our best to mimic food and thus provide the deficiencies which are present in the diet. If you were to total up all the individual active ingredients in all Xtend-Life supplements you will find that they are all well within the safe limits.

To be concerned about taking our supplements would mean that you would also have to be concerned about eating. Nonetheless, I will have this study looked into and report back.”

Since sending that email I have had a report back from Joanna who did some research into this ‘study’.

This is what she says.

“I have done a lot of chasing on these news pages and the related studies, and below are the reviews and conclusions:

Firstly, although the news articles both state that the study was conducted by the NCI and their researchers, the NCI have no actual record of the study themselves. They state that these studies are “not part of NCI resources”. The NCI states “…..the Journal of the NCI was bought by a private enterprise several years ago, and the opinion in that journal is not solely of the NCI any longer”. I could not however find out the name of the company that actually owns the studies to which the news items refer.

Next, there are many actual flaws in the study itself, some of which are noted in the actual text if you look closely enough…

1. The term ‘excessive vitamins’ is undefined. There is no indication in the study data of actual dosages used, or content of the multi-vitamin example given to volunteers. This info is unavailable. The only classification used within the study is that multi-vitamins were taken more than 7 times per week. We are all aware that if vitamins and minerals are taken in excess they have detrimental effects on the system.

Therefore if mega doses of these vitamins were used in the study, it is no surprise that the immune system and other vital systems would be compromised, making the body more vulnerable overall to potential cancer, as well as other degenerative diseases. The same would apply if you gave a study group an excess dosage of a prescription drug – which is fine and useful in normal dose, but potentially fatal in excess dose. The same applies. This reasoning does give the study little creditability.

2. It is stated within the study that NO connection was found between multi-vitamin use and early stage or localized prostate cancer. It is further stated that in instances where high doses of multi-vitamins were used, and an increase in advanced prostate cancer were seen, that those subjects were also taking “other supplements“.

The study elaborates on this to continue “……we were unable to identify or quantify individual components responsible for the associations we observed”. In actual fact meaning that a direct association between the multi-vitamins in excess dosage they were testing, and any possible association with increased advanced cancers, could not be established, due to the fact that the “other supplements” subjects were taking were not quantified also. In my opinion, this fact alone totally diminishes any potential value the study has overall.

3. In the criteria list for the setting up of the trial, the actual administration of the multi-vitamins wasn’t even monitored by the study. Subjects were classed as either excess or non-multi-vitamin users only by mailed questionnaire on the subject of ‘food-frequency’. This doesn’t seem a strict guideline for testing bases and leaves the study open to many non-scientific and human error flaws relying only on information from non-qualified individuals.

4. The conclusion summary of “increased risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancers in men with excessive multi-vitamin usage” actually comes from an assessment of men who already use multivitamins for this purpose against men who were not as at risk in the first place, and so took no multivitamins. This surely makes the information less valid in terms of the study group used.

Of course men who are already at high risk of prostate cancer are going to have more incidences of advanced and fatal cancers than those who have little risk in the first instance. I.E. the study was conducted between men who were originally at high risk, and therefore took multivitamins, as opposed to those who took none, as they had no equal risk factors. This however does not conclude whether multivitamins help or hinder illness for one particular condition, or risk thereof. Remember too that those in the high risk and high intake category (and taking excessive doses) were also taking “other supplements” unknown to the study data.

5. Finally, the study NBs that “….differences between heavy users of multivitamins and non-users that may not have been controlled in a study of this type, may obscure the true relationship between multivitamin use and prostate cancer.”

To summarize then, the study has many flaws and is associated with an unnamed “private enterprise”. It is only one study showing negative results (possibly due to the flaws?) as opposed to many studies showing positive results of natural supplement use during cancer or high risk cancer. We have many studies on our ingredients lists that include cancer as part of their positive results for individual and formulated ingredients, and there are many more studies available on such formulations and ingredients to back these up.”

To put what she is saying into simple terms. The study is worthless and did not warrant the media uptake it received. You cannot relate prevention of a disease to a vague intake of multi supplements in individuals who already have a disease and are desperate to try anything.

Virtually all diseases are as a result of a nutrient balance. The key is ensuring that disease doesn’t get a hold in the first place. This is the object of quality supplementation.

So, don’t put your supplement program at hold and thus put your health at risk.

In good health,

Warren Matthews, Xtend-Life

Mountain Rose Herbs is where we recommend you purchase all of your organic, wild crafted bulk herbs, spices, teas and pure,organic essential oils!

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Originally posted 2007-07-06 09:40:35.

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