How to Spot Anti-Vitamin Research
Ten Ways to Spot Anti-Vitamin Biases in a Scientific Study
1. Where’s the
much of the original study is quoted in the media? Are you just getting
factoids, or are data provided? Has the journalist writing about the
subject actually read the original paper?
2. What exactly was
studied, and how? Was
it an IN VITRO (test-tube) study or an IN VIVO (animal) study? Was there a
CLINICAL STUDY on people, or is its application to real life a matter of
3. Follow the
paid for the study? Cash from food processors, pharmaceutical giants, and
other deep pockets decides what gets studied, and how. It is very
difficult, if not impossible, for researchers to present findings that
embarrass their financial backers. Published research will often indicate
sources of funding, possibly at the end of the paper in an acknowledgements
paragraph. If not, correspondence addresses of principle authors are
invariably provided. Write and ask.
4. Check the dosages. Any vitamin C study using
less than 2,000 mg a day is a waste of time. Any vitamin E study employing
less than 400 International Units (I.U.) is a waste of time. Any study using
less than 1,000 mg niacin a day is a waste of time. All low-dose studies are
set up to fail. Low doses of vitamins do not cure major diseases. Large
doses cure diseases.
5. Check the form of
Was the vitamin used in the study natural or synthetic? Any carotene
study using the synthetic form of beta-carotene only is a waste of time. Any
vitamin E study using the synthetic DL-alpha form (instead of far more
effective natural mixed tocopherols) is a waste of time.
6. Use the Pauling
Principle: read the entire study and interpret the data for yourself. Do not rely on
the summary and/or conclusions of the study authors. As Linus Pauling
pointed out repeatedly, many researchers miss, or dismiss, the statistical
significance of their own work. Such behavior may be human error, or it
may be politically motivated. Beware of editorializing.
7. Beware of
Pauling-bashers. If a media article is critical about twice Nobel prize-winning Linus
Pauling, you can be confident it has been spin-doctored.
8. Watch for these throw-away slams against supplements:
“You get all the
vitamins you need form your daily diet.”
9. Watch for pontifical public recommendations at the end of the article such as:
"Vitamins can do
some good things, but can do some bad things as well."
10. Use the media
more headlines about a particular study, the more politically charged the
subject and the less likely that the reporting, or the original study, is
positive towards vitamins. Negative news sells newspapers, and
magazines, and gets lots of viewers. Positive drug studies
do get headlines, of course. Positive vitamin studies do not. Is
this a conspiracy? You mean with shady people all sitting around a shaded
table in a darkened back room? Of course not. It is nevertheless an enormous
public health problem with enormous consequences. Consider what might be
called Saul’s Law of the Media: “Press and television coverage of a vitamin study is inversely
proportionate to the study’s clinical usefulness.” In other
words, the more media hoopla, the worse the research. Truly valuable research
does not scare people; it helps people get well. There are over 3,000
scientific references at Doctor Yourself.com for people who share in this
Copyright 2007 and prior years by Andrew Saul. Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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