No Deaths from Vitamins - None at All in 27
Commentary by Andrew W. Saul and Jagan N. Vaman,
(OMNS, June 14, 2011) Over a
twenty-seven year period, vitamin supplements have been alleged to have caused
the deaths of a total of eleven people in the United States. A new analysis of
US poison control center annual report data indicates that there have, in fact,
been no deaths whatsoever from vitamins . . . none at all, in the 27 years that
such reports have been available.
The American Association of
Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) attributes annual deaths to vitamins as:
|1991: two |
these figures are taken as correct, and even if they include intentional and
accidental misuse, the number of alleged vitamin fatalities is strikingly low,
averaging less than one death per year for over two and a half decades. In 19 of
those 27 years, AAPCC reports that there was not one single death due to
Still, the Orthomolecular
Medicine News Service Editorial Board was curious: Did eleven people really die
from vitamins? And if so, how?
Vitamins Not THE Cause of
In determining cause of death,
AAPCC uses a four-point scale called Relative Contribution to Fatality (RCF). A
rating of 1 means "Undoubtedly Responsible"; 2 means "Probably Responsible"; 3
means "Contributory"; and 4 means "Probably Not Responsible." In examining
poison control data for the year 2006, listing one vitamin death, it was seen
that the vitamin's Relative Contribution to Fatality (RCF) was a 4. Since a
score of "4" means "Probably Not Responsible," it quite negates the claim that a
person died from a vitamin in 2006.
Vitamins Not A Cause of
In the other seven years
reporting one or more of the remaining ten alleged vitamin fatalities, studying
the AAPCC reports reveals an absence of any RCF rating for vitamins in any of
those years. If there is no Relative Contribution to Fatality at all, then the
substance did not contribute to death at all.
Furthermore, in each of those
remaining seven years, there is no substantiation provided to demonstrate that
any vitamin was a cause of death.
If there is insufficient
information about the cause of death to make a clear-cut declaration of cause,
then subsequent assertions that vitamins cause deaths are not evidence-based.
Although vitamin supplements have often been blamed for causing fatalities,
there is no evidence to back up this allegation.
1. Download any Annual Report of the American
Association of Poison Control Centers from 1983-2009 free of charge at http://www.aapcc.org/annual-reports/
The "Vitamin" category is usually near the very end of the report.
Most recent year: Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena
LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2009 Annual Report of the American
Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 27th
Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology (2010). 48, 979-1178. The full text article
is available for free download at http://www.aapcc.org/annual-reports/
The vitamin data mentioned above will be found in
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial
Editorial Review Board:
Ian Brighthope, M.D.
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D.
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
James A. Jackson, Ph.D. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson,
M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D.
(USA), Editor and contact person. Email: email@example.com
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