Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vitamins Are Useless? If They Are - So are STATINS!

Comparison histogram showing how nutrients in cornmeal have declined from 60 years ago.

Once more the PhrMA -backed establishment research clowns have performed more of their bogus studies and concluded  "Case closed!" (where have we seen that before?) and that "vitamins confer no benefit and are essentially useless".  How many times have we heard this codswallop and how often have they regurgitated it in the lapdog corporate press?  Of course, we are informed - as this morning on CBS Early Show - that "this is the definitive study!"  Yeah, right.

It's no secret there is an entrenched "anti-vitamin" industry in this country, based on phony medical or statistical tests, that has been trying for decades to convince people not to "waste money on vitamins", arguing that the only result is "very expensive urine".   But what they don't tell you - never will - is the extent to which our modern veggies, crops have been diluted in nutrients!

I have a graphic above which compares the selected nutrients in cornmeal to those from 60 years earlier.  Just look at the comparisons for thiamin, riboflavin and niacin and try to tell me that you can obtain the same benefit by eating the foods containing them, instead of taking the supplements. Any such person would have to be a dupe or a moron.

Take the calcium content of broccoli. Widely grown varieties in 1950 had about 13 mg/g of calcium but today's varieties provide only about 4.4 mg/g of calcium. Similar proportionate declines have been documented in meat, eggs, and dairy products.  If you are going to be foolish enough then, to depend on foods for all the calcium you need - you are going to pay when bones are broken -say from a fall on ice.

I have been taking a calcium supplement for over 20 years now, and in that time have experienced 7 falls on ice. Not one of those times met with a broken bone - but I can't claim the same had I not taken a calcium supplement and depended only on foods, milk etc. Some skeptics might argue it's the genes, not the calcium, but my dad experienced a fall in 2005 - hip fracture- which left him frail and vulnerable afterwards.  He was never the same, with the same energy and strength afterward.

Research on nutrient decline by biochemist Bruce Ames shows the following:

- Over the last 50 years, the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C in conventionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables has declined by 50% or more.

- Wheat grown 100 years ago had twice as much protein as modern versions.

- Most of our agri-food crops, from lettuce, to broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, beans, peas, cabbage, etc. are so diluted that one would have to eat two to three times the amount daily to obtain an equal nutrient value to what one had in the 1960s. Thus, to do totally without vitamins, get set to eat four cauliflowers, three whole broccoli heads, eight oranges, five bananas (for potassium), ten tomatoes and three pounds of peas or beans!

In other words, in order to replace the nutrients, vitamins you're not getting you'd have to consume vastly larger quantities of veggies - and to absurd proportions! Who the hell is going to eat ten tomatoes, or three pounds of peas or beans in a day, or drink two gallons of milk? Give me a break! 

But this is what the anti-vitamin scolds want you to believe!   The most often cited reason for the declines is the increased use of fertilizers and genetically modified crops to boost yields to feed larger world population. The problem is this has come at the expense of the nutrient density of the crops.

Now, in the interests of being unbiased, they did get some things correct, but these are things most who take vitamins already know:

- You leave Vitamin A (e.g. in beta carotenes) alone because it's too easy to overdose on it with negative results.

- taking large surplus amounts of Vitamin E can (possibly) cause prostate cancer

- Don't fuck around with "exotics" like Ginkgo Biloba or Yohimbe root.

On the other hand, people in their elder years (over 65) need more vitamin D (in the form of D3) and they simply can't get this from foods - and they'd have to remain hours in the Sun (risking skin cancer) to get it otherwise. They also need at least 1,000 mg of Vitamin B-12 per day to avoid mental decline caused by deficiencies in this vitamin as they age. In addition, they ought to be taking a good B-complex at least four times a week, and calcium - magnesium (which is important for metabolic activity and which too few Americans get enough of.)

On the other hand, statin drugs are being pushed as some kind of a godsend or pharmaceutical elixir on millions. Why? To earn huge profits for Big PhrmA (and don't anyone hand me that crap peddled by the Neoliberal media that widespread generics will soon bring the costs down. No, the companies won't allow that to happen- even if they have to continually change one molecule to preserve a patent.)

Furthermore, according to the most robust statistical studies done, statins DON'T work! The statistics have been fudged! This  was first reported by FORBES in 2008 wherein outcomes from a control and statin-taking group were compared per capita for heart attacks. In the control (placebo) group there occurred 2 heart attacks per capita, and in the statin-takers there occurred 1 heart attack per 100. The results were then touted as "Statins reduce risk of heart attacks by 33%".


(2 - 1)/3 x 100% = 1/3 x 100% = 33%

Which was duly reported by the hobbled corporo-media and which had many people thinking: 'Wow! I need to get statins, because hey -- if there could be 1,000 likely to get 'em and 333 didn't because of taking statins, I wanna be in that number!"

Trouble is, there was no such magnitude of success, and the actual difference per capita for the trials was kept hidden, well, at least until FORBES exposed them.

It is entirely plausible that a similar "result" was obtained for the margins of difference in prostate cancer arising from taking vitamin E, but this time - because portions of the media were on to the ginnied stats, they decided to admit that in actual fact, the results were not significant. But with "health" reporting you can be certain if nothing else that the Neoliberal profiteers are massaging the numbers.

Of course, there are tests that can bear this out! They are contingent on knowing actual sample sizes and then using the text to obtain the confidence level or level of significance.

For example, the well-known 'z-test' compares effects for two designated populations, P1 and P2, which have associated sample sizes N1 and N2. If the distinct outcomes for each population sample are then denoted by x and y, respectively, one can denote the separate populations in terms of the outcomes using:

P1 = x/N1 and P2 = y/N2

The z-statistic is then computed using:

z = (P1 - P2)/ [PQ {1/N1 - 1/N2}]^½


P = (x + y)/N1 + N2

is a pooled population and Q = (1 - P) (the variance of (P1 - P2) is the quantity in the denominator of the right -hand side in the expression for z)

Clearly, if a null hypothesis is applied such that no difference in outcomes is expected, one could have:

x/N1 = y/N2

or very close to that.

Now, here is a key element, we will know that z possesses a standard normal (e.g. Gaussian) distribution - see graph below:

if N1 and N2 are large. But, if the samples are too small, all bets are off and it is derelict to apply the z-test. For rejection of the null hypothesis (i.e. accepting a significant difference in outcomes) the obtained z-value cannot be less than 1.96 or the upper 5% of the standard normal distribution.

In effect, I'd surmise what the current anti- vitamin research is all about is not attaining this threshold for the tests they employ, which may not be the same as the z-test.

In the case of vitamins- supplements, we know that ever since Durk Pearson's outstanding research on the benefits of vitamins in the 1970s, government and Big Pharma has been out to quash the very notion of supplements as useful. Why express surprise? We are talking of the Corporate State and it protects its interests! The polluted politicians know that if Big Pharma's profits are affected - especially by a bleed off from people spending on vitamins, supplements - they will lose campaign donations from the Big Pharma lobbies for the next election cycle. Duh!

Now, since most government agencies already operate on the basis of "the fox guarding the henhouse" in terms of regulations, it makes sense that at any given time a particular agency that's been taken over by corporate power will inveigh against those interests it deems a threat...say to PhRmA's enormous profits, and hence campaign donation capacity. Thus it is that so many of the politicians seek to stamp out even medical marijuana because they know it will dent PhRma's profits - just as the medical establishment now joins the fray to try to put a lid on vitamin purchases.

We cannot, CANNOT - have the little guys enjoying so much cost-savings with vitamins to stay healthy when they could spend a LOT more on prescription drugs - if they didn't take vitamins and became unhealthy!  I mean, think of it! If they can just get these little hardheads to stop taking a Vitamin C, magnesium,  Vitamin D, or even just an aspirin each day - warning them off it - they will get their cholesterol and other numbers bad enough to warrant the prescription of costly statins! PROFITS! Wa-HOO! (And even better, if the hoi polloi get liver or kidney disease, croak and don't live long enough to get any "entitlements"!)

 Now, if anyone thinks this is "conspiracy thinking" I invite them to read the front page story in the Sunday New York Times on how the drug establishment is hyping 'attention deficit disorder' to spur sales of ADD drugs and boost profits - including for adults! (The next "challenge" according to the piece).   In much the same way, statins have now been approved for use by many more millions. Under the new advice, 33 million Americans — 44 percent of men and 22 percent of women — would meet the threshold for taking a statin. Under the current  (not yet revised) guidelines, statins are recommended for only about 15 percent of adults. You see where this is going?

Having taken over 14 vitamins and supplements for nearly 37 years I am not about to stop now, no matter what new "studies" proclaim. Also, as a person versed in statistics, I will have to see ironclad STRONG (not marginal) statistical evidence that a given outcome from use of a particular supplement is bad. Until that happens, all these specialists in negative vitamin research can go fart in the wind. It will be about that much difference to me in terms of whether they impact my thinking.

Lastly, and in my opinion trumping any inflated and bogus studies,  I was gratified when in 1998, after years of skepticism over my vitamin taking, my then physician finally admitted to me openly during a physical exam that she'd been wrong, and she now concurred with my vitamin and mineral supplement regimen. As she put it:

"Well, I did the research ....all over the place, and I have to admit now that people simply can't get all the nutrients they need from food. It's all been so diluted, that a person would need to eat massive volumes just to get the minimum RDAs of one vitamin, far less what you're taking. So keep on keeping on..."

I wish these other bought and paid for tools would also do the research, as opposed by being paid by Big PhrMA to do their brand of pseudo -research.

"Case closed?" Ha! No more than the JFK assassination case!

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