Every once in a while a story hits the media that is picked up by every single news service and blog repeated over and over talking about some new, hidden danger with regard to some supplement.
First of all you need to understand that the natural supplement industry is probably has the best safety record of any industry in modern times. Hundreds of millions of people have been taking vitamins and various herbs with zero to very minimal side effects.
Properly used supplements add to health without demanding payback later. For example you can get a temporary boost by drinking a caffeinated or sugary drink but this creates an energy debt that you will have to make up later. The vast majority of supplements support your natural physiology without creating this energy debt.
I say this to separate supplements into two categories. The first group is dedicated to improving basic health and energy, that is to bring your body into physiological balance. The second has to do with manipulating your body to achieve an unnatural result such as muscle building or temporary increase in athletic performance. The second category is not to be confused with the industry that is working to improve your health and when I talk about supplements this is what I am referring to unless I say otherwise.
Does vitamin E supplementation increase the risk of prostate cancer as reported in Oncology Nov 2011? First of all most prostate cancers are slow growing and not life threatening. Recent studies report that about 50% of men over 50 years of age have prostate cancer but that most men die with not from prostate cancer. You will need repeated biopsies, not a PSA test to know the difference.
Which type of cancer was being detected? My guess is that with a test of 35,000 men, that they weren't using biopies but blood tests. No meaningful conclusions can come from that data.
Next we need to know what type of vitamin E was used. Most experts in the world of natural products are adamant that only d tocopherol be used. The synthetic form is d,l tocopherol, is cheaper, considered toxic and was the one used in the study. Therefore this was a study of the effects of a toxic substance similar in structure to a vitamin, not a study of vitamin E.
What was the general diet of these 35,000 men? If they were eating a standard American diet (SAD), maybe synthetic vitamin E along with selenium could have put even more oxidant stress on their body and prostate. Also were these men taking any other anti-oxidants? Glutathione is essential for the activation of the beneficial effects of vitamin E. What were the glutathione levels? These levels are critical but not routinely tested. Supplementation of glutathione is a challenge but with LifeWave Energy Patches and glutathione precursors and recycling factors, the blood levels can be dramatically increased. Glutathione
A study like this has to be well designed meaning that so many factors play into the results. Every study has problems and honest conclusions will point out these limitations while cautiously commenting on what we can learn from the data. The authors instead jumped to conclusions that supplements can't be considered safe. A more measured response usually comes out more like this, "with this particular combination of factors that is diet other supplementation and stress levels, this synthetic form of vitamin E might be contraindicated."
It is not generally understood that no one study proves anything. It takes a combination of studies over time to tease out the truth from assumptions. This study is no different and no broad conclusions can be drawn.
Also important to note that the data was extensively massaged by the authors to paint the supplementation in the worst possible light. This was not an honest study.
Every year thousands of articles are published in peer reviewed literature showing the benefits of various supplements and combinations of supplements. One study like this with bogus conclusions causes a drop in supplement use worldwide. We also have pre and post blood tests to prove that properly used supplements do help bring the physiology back into balance.
I wonder about the agenda of Big Pharma and their influence in studies like this. I know that good health is their biggest enemy.
Get routine lab tests to see what your body is trying to tell you. Take supplements according to these data and you can enjoy better health. Yes, supplements are not just safe but important for optimum physiology.