Sunday, March 02, 2008

Now vitamin E is bad for you

But hey! Isn't it one of those marvellous "antioxidants"? Pesky! Note that Vitamin D has also recently been shown to be bad for you. Note also here, where antioxidants generally were found to be BAD for you. So sad for all the credulous pill-poppers!

People who take daily supplements of vitamin E have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, according to one of the largest studies into vitamins and health ever attempted. Doctors monitored the wellbeing of more than 77,000 men and women over a four-year period and found that a range of vitamins failed to protect against lung cancer, while vitamin E slightly increased the risk of developing the disease. The study suggested that taking 400mg of vitamin E for 10 years increases the risk of lung cancer by 28%. Taking 100mg of the vitamin each day raised the risk of disease by 7%.

According to Cancer Research UK, the lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is roughly 8% for men and 4% for women. An increase of 28% in that background risk would raise a man's risk to 10% and a woman's to 5%.

A team led by Christopher Slatore at the University of Washington in Seattle looked at 77,126 people aged between 50 and 76 years old who were taking part in a vitamins and lifestyle study called Vital. By following the patients over several years, they were able to link their risk of lung cancer with previous and ongoing vitamin usage.

Unsurprisingly, the doctors found that lung cancer was strongly correlated with smoking, a family history of the disease and increasing age, but were surprised to find a slight but significant rise in lung cancer linked to vitamin E. The effect was most prominent in current smokers.

People who took multivitamins, vitamin C or folate supplements had a risk of lung cancer similar to those who did not take supplements, according to the study, which appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. "Our results should prompt clinicians to counsel patients that these supplements are unlikely to reduce the risk of lung cancer and may be detrimental," Slatore said.

In an accompanying editorial, Tim Byers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine says that many people use vitamins pills as a substitute for a healthy diet, but he said other compounds in fresh fruit and vegetables are also important. "Fruits contain not only vitamins but also many hundreds of other phytochemical compounds whose functions are not well understood," he writes.

Henry Scowcroft, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "The jury's still very much out on whether vitamin and mineral supplements can affect cancer risk. Some studies suggest a benefit, but many others show no effect and some, like this one, suggest they may even increase risk. "Research repeatedly shows that a healthy, balanced diet [And how do we define "balanced"?] can reduce your risk of some cancers while giving you all the vitamins you need. And quitting smoking remains the most effective way to avoid many cancers. There's no diet or vitamin supplement that could ever counter the toxic effects of cigarette smoke."

The charity added: "Supplements do not substitute for a healthy diet, although some people may be advised to take them at certain times in their lives. For example, doctors may advise women who are planning to have a baby to take a daily 400-microgram supplement of folic acid. And dark-skinned or elderly people may need to take vitamin D supplements since they need more sun exposure than other people to make enough vitamin D."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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