Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 20, 2011
What happened to the media that investigates and reports both sides of the story? The practice of denigrating dietary supplements and raising public concern over “safety” has been elevated to an art form by the media. Sound bites and articles with such titles as, “Vitamins May Kill Elderly Americans,” ignore the number of documented deaths caused by prescription drugs. Without both sides of the story, media is playing with half a deck – when this happens in oppressed countries, we call it propaganda.
The current rant over the safety of dietary supplements is really not about safety. Lack of “safety” is being touted as the main reason supplements are under siege. However, ignored by the media is the Adverse Events Reporting System (AERS) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which contains over 4 million adverse events reported from 1969 to the present for FDA approved drugs. From 2000 to 2009, the FDA AERS received 370,056 reports of deaths and 2,345,066 reports of serious patient outcomes from FDA approved drugs, NOT from dietary supplements. Eleven years ago on July 26, 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that behind heart disease and cancer, American medicine was the 3rd leading cause of death.
The study inspiring the media to create confusion, “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women’s Health Study,” was observational and not the double-blind placebo gold standard with controls on every test component. Doctors and scientists know that an observational study based on a self-reporting questionnaire does not prove cause and effect – but the reader wouldn’t know that from a flamboyant title that indicates sensationalism is more important than substance. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations.
The value of using dietary supplements to improve the health of the elderly, as well as the health of other sectors of the population, has been confirmed in published studies. The Lewin Group is a health care consulting firm that does policy research and data analysis on Medicare, etc. In their study, “A Study of the Cost Effects of Daily Multivitamins on Older Adults,” the Lewin Group summarized that “given the available evidence, we conclude that daily multivitamins can be beneficial for older adults. Because suboptimal nutrient intake has been linked to chronic disease, the risk from not taking a multivitamin outweighs the minimal risks of taking one.”
Various think tanks have determined that a significant number of older Americans are deficient in vitamins and trace elements and could benefit from taking a multivitamin. A study entitled, “Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction,” commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and updated in 2007, found that taking four specific supplements could reduce health care cost by over $24 billion.
Reviews supporting the use of nutritional supplements have appeared in both JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine. Some people, due to age, genetic predisposition, environmental insult, lifestyle choices, disability, or disease, have a heightened requirement for dietary supplements.
Media cannot fulfill its obligation to the public when the only source of information considered originates from government, corporations that represent conventional medicine, or sectors that serve both. Media shapes public opinion about dietary supplements with information coming from entities representing only the conventional standard of care model. The Feds, pharmaceutical industry, and media make interesting bedfellows. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions.
The purpose of thorough and unbiased investigational reporting is to empower the public to deal intelligently with information. Besides knowing where and when a medical study took place, reporters need to ask critical questions and provide the people they serve with answers to the following:
- Who funded the study?
- What was the original purpose of the study?
- What substances were tested (types and dosages)?
- Did the research involve combinations of nutrients?
- Was the research on isolated components only?
- In the case of hormones, were they synthetic or compounded bio-identical hormones?
- What type of study was it (observational or double-blind placebo)?
- What was the outcome of the study?
- Whose health stands to benefit from the outcome?
- Who stands to profit monetarily from the outcome?
- Were physician/researchers from ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine) or other scientists without financial ties asked to comment on the study?
To connect the dots, the media has to recognize itself as a significant part of the health care problem in the U.S. Since the media shapes public opinion, special interest groups will continue to use the media to discredit dietary supplements and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now. Does the media want conventional medicine, with its heavy reliance on expensive physician-dispensed prescription drugs, to be the only game in town? Media must not offer a Trojan horse to a public that relies on it to be impartial and knowledgeable enough to report both sides of the story.
These people remind me of high school students that have found a “way ” to get their ideas over with out doing the actual home work and expect the teacher to believe them and accept their warped vision of how things aught to be without considering who will suffer from thier lack of knowledge.
Excellent article making some importnt suggestions. But underlying the media bias, that frequently comes from the urging of adverising agencies is the fact that today’s media TV, radio and newspapers are all more dependant on advertising from drug companies than ever before.
Watch who sponsors the newsprograms and talk shows. The adverising of drugs is so prevalent, that sometimes they don’t even bother to say what the drug is used for. It sometimes makes me think, the only reason they advertise is to reinforce the dependancy of the media on big pharma advertising.
That slants the playing field enormously.
Who can resist when the adverising agency calls to “suggest” running this study that just so happens to question the safer “competitor” of prescription drugs.
THIS article needs to be in every major newspaper!
The people against supplements must have an interest to only a one way path. This thinking and acting is against our freedom in America. If they don’t want supplements and vitamins that is their choice of freedom, but don’t include us in their choice.
Our country was founded on freedom, not dictatorship. I predict one thing, this kind actions will lead to riots in the big cities. Our heavenly father is not on their side. What have they got to gain anyway? I believe it is all about money. Not wellness.
one thing “they” don’t want you to know is healing by using certain electrical freqencies can be very effective for the most serious health problems such as cancer
What a surprise! The MSM is not telling the full story – especially when it comes to finding some way to slant almost anything in a negative way. PLEASE EVERYONE – post a comment on the new supplement guidelines being put out by the USDA. We are in great danger of losing more personal choices for our healthcare and availability of supplements.
“What happened to the ‘media’ that investigates and reports both sides of the story?”
That “media” has been dead, buried, and forgotten.
“….When this happens in oppressed countries, we call it propaganda.”
Welcome to the USA.
When & if the OWS movement gets around to putting up a candidate for political office, I hope that food and supplement freedom becomes part of their platform. The effort is certainly not going to come out of the corrupted Democratic or Republican parties. Mainstream media’s blatant and contemptible bias on this issue is yet another reason to look elsewhere for reliable information. Much gratitude is owed to independent organizations such as Citizens for Health in promoting this issue.
VITAMIMS AND SUPPLEMENTS—–“KEEP-ON TRUCKING”.
“NO MAKAU”. “GIVE-EM”!!!!!
My BIG question … it WHICH drug companies are behind .. all the media reports ? I suspect that .. would bring true light to the media attention.
We really do need to be able to have access to supplements, because it looks as if, they may soon be the only health improvements we can afford.
These so-called journalists are in the employ of Big Pharma whose greed gets worse every year. Their “studies” are very biased and shallow. I hope the people who make the supplements I take, WITH the approval of 2 doctors, band together and put up a fight for fairness against these obvious smear attacks.
Thank you Miss Jenkins for a timely well-written and needed article. I’m looking for the next one by you. Everyone should be involved with this effort, especially our government representatives. I hope friends of our senators and representatives are bending their ears, otherwise WE must get acquainted with them. Our friends MUST be our government representatives. They must understand this.
I have been buying and taking vitamins and supplements for more than forty years without any adverse effects and with considerable benefit to my health: my sixth decade is nearly complete and I feel fine and am prescription drug free. That will all end if the crony heads of drug manufacture/approval and their colluding and syncophantic partners in the media succeed in forcing supplement manufacturers into a system like the FDA and big pharma cesspool of corruption. It is obvious that the claim of improving safety is merely cover for a fraudulent attempt to capture another revenue stream similar to the ridiculously expensive one for largely ineffective prescription drugs. It is yet another depradation of the common man by the current uber-liberal, supposedly compassionate administration.
The sad truth is that the media (as well as the gov’t) is bought and paid for by big business. Obviously the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA have much to lose if the public ever learns the truth, hence their money controls all channels of communication from grade school on to college and on to fudged research by “independent” labs. We need someone like Ron Paul on our side, and we should support him all the way to the White House.
Another thing to consider….
Who is the media working for? Who are they in bed with? Looking at the larger picture, it would make sense that the “fake” news spewed out to the masses, by the large networks, and even smaller local stations is twisted.
Follow the money, get to the source, its all connected.
I meant to say (without the typos): It is none of the Governments business or the Government run FDA what vitamins and supplements I and my family choose to take!!! The FDA needs to be proactive and should be doing what they are hired to do and what we pay them for, to protect us from dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, yet they allow incessant advertising of them instead! We are not even allowed our freedom of speech when doing reviews about the effectiveness of a vitamin or a supplement if it is more effective than pharmaceutical drugs! We are being censored, our supplements are monitored and this looks like the end of a free democracy and a government that is for the people. It is exactly the opposite! I am irate! And if this doesn’t make the people mad, what will it take!
We need to see this piece or a similar one published on the op-ed page of big-market newspapers.
I think the bigger issue that allows a one-side story to dominate is the fact the supplement industry has never had a marketable message, major spokesperson (at least since Jack Lalaine), no positive marketing message by any of the trade associations, and a general lack of a presence in the psyche of the American public. Think about it; the health food industry brought whole foods back into the American diet, recommended a high antioxidant, high fiber, low saturated fat, low sodium, high fruits, vegetables, and whole grains diet when Western medical authorities were convinced that diet had nothing to do with the genesis of disease. The modern fitness, preventive health, and environmental movements cautioning against overuse of pesticides and hormones in foods leading to organics came from the health food industry, even the integrative medicine movement, originated with the health food industry. Everything modern health care authorities now embrace as the keys to health began in the health food industry. What percentage of the public knows this? When has the industry ever created a message that makes this known to the public? Virtually never, unfortunately. So when there is a void of a positive message the negative message is resounding. We can blame the media but it is the industry itself, its lack of unity, and lack of leadership that is at the heart of the problem of why more Americans do not know of the immense benefits that exist in community health food stores throughout the United States.
My mother’s macular degeneration was halted, and even reversed a bit, by supplementation of vitamins A & D.
If DRUGS would ‘CURE’ the pharmaceutical companies would go out of business – Not really because of ‘growing’ populations,although profits would be drastically reduced (note the $Billions spent on TV advertising is an indication as to profit)- So, if Vitamins are an aid to individuals staying well,
as has been the case, guess ‘who’ will spend a bit of $$$ to confuse/concern, and attempt to ‘convince’ certain political individuls to ‘save’ the population-
A study entitled, “Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction,” commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and updated in 2007, found that taking four specific supplements could reduce health care cost by over $24 billion.
This says it all. Big pharma wants that $24 billion.
We no longer have a 4th column, we have Corp. shills, paid whores, bloated pigs feeding off the corp slops. Fascist Propaganda, which leads a lazy populace to its slaughter.
The latest survey showed that viewers, watching Fox (News) actually were less informed after viewing for (x) time than before they started!!! Started Dumb and became Dumber
The pharmaceutical industry has been trying for years to snuff out vitamins and supplements because they can cure health problems related to deficiencies, energy, heart disease, high colestrol, bowels problems and a host of others. Most (not all)of our health problems are related to poor eating habits; eating of actually non-food items(junk “phoney” foods.
There definitely is a place for medicine, but good night! Medicine can never take the place of nutritious fruits & vegetables and for those who have become sick and weakly, vitamins and minerals replace what they either cannot get from their foods, or the sick body cannot assimilate the nutrients any longer and they need extra help.
The press needs to read-up and really do their homework before endorsing articals against Vitamins & nutrients. Even mental retardation has improved (I did not say cured- and there is a big difference. If you had a problem, you would want to feel better even if it was mental retardation!)when given large doses of vitamin-C.
Money money money is what they are thinking, because they are losing money on medicine the more our health improves, and yet not one of the big companies would not want to feel better if they were sick, and could take vitamins/nutrients to do so. The list of side affects for their latest anti-inflamatory is a mile long. Not so with vitamins/supplements. There is caution needed, but in no way like medicine.
Which media? I have not heard about that study. Big Pharma has been after natural vitamins for years. The media is just like the politicians who are owned by the 1%. They will do what is best for their bottom line. They are corporations, too, after all. Let’s focus on the source of the problem rather than the peripherals.
These people do not care since they are acting for the broader Police State that has been set up to control citizens and put money in the pockets of corporations and career politicians.
I think your story should be in every newspaper. Very informative and I don’t know why they want to take our rights away to buy supplements any way.
What side are the high school students?! The unaware consumer is simply being victimized at the expense of their health, their quality of life, the same way Wall Street and the media have misrepresented the real facts; the “have nots” have less and less to fill the pockets of the “haves” and corporate interests. It is shameful., Dr Dave
Ms. Jenkins brings up some very good points to consider when viewing headlines like “Magnesium Found to Increase Mortality Rates.” It is often hard to discern fact from fiction in the world of nutrition with the lines becoming more blurred as we proceed, or is it, as we digress.
You have a giant pharmaceutical industry and many mega food manufacturers seeing their profits diminish through the process of public enlightenment. It is not uncommon to find sizable “donations” by these corporations to groups of power such as the American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association, and sadly, the FDA. Unfortunately, these groups wield a big stick in the eye of public opinion regarding health and have the means to skew data from biased, and sometimes unbiased, studies to sway public opinion away from a more holistic approach to health.
On the other hand, you have a multi-billion dollar industry, in nutraceuticals, where everyone is scurrying for their piece of the pie. Many of these companies make magnificent, sometimes magical, claims to the efficacy of their products. However, there are some nutraceutical companies that are better than others, but they are all out to make money; buyers beware. Many of these unrealistic claims really do nothing but ultimately create a black eye for this industry. This may lead to creating a level of distrust that can easily be compounded by the continuous barrage of negative information provided by their opponents.
So, what is a person to think? It is my opinion that education is the only answer. Look for answers from individuals, or groups of individuals, who have studied this field, have the credentials to back it up, and have no direct conflict of interest. In other words, make sure that the information they provide to you does not directly lead to a product that they sell or promote. I am always leery of the merchant or practitioner who has “all the answers” and miraculously has “just the product you need to remedy the situation.” Be careful about miraculous claims, they should always be viewed as a “red flag.” These are just a couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing any nutraceutical product, or any other product for that matter.
Best in health,
Steve Halgrimson, M.S., C.N.
I would like to say I have verified the AERS report as quoted 2000-2009, but when I went to the FDA, I wasn’t sure how to locate it. Can someone assist?
E. Davidson, RN
The advertisement of Medication for health is a joke. The side
affects in the PDR is over whelming and can cause more health
problems than the existing problems. The body dose not become
sick for lack of prescriptions. The air, water, and earth are
polluted and the body becomes inflamed and inflamation is reduced
by health food vitamins and clean water.
So stay out of the natural product,s of food and work on the
cleaning up of the enviroment.
We do have healthcare providers other than the MD’s that are beholden to the corrupt FDA. Ostopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists, anti-aging physicians. We need an organization to compete with the FDA and publish reports on research of alternative forms of treatment such as herbal formulas and vitamins, etc. This way, we can get high quality treatments without the side effects of the chemicals passed on by the FDA and its conflicts of interests. We need medical textbooks written by authors other than the drug industry. Until we have change along these lines, we will continue to have threats against our freedoms that Ms Jenkins wrote about.
What is particularly aggravating is that there are alternatives out there that will cure or at least treat cancer without the dangerous effects of the chemo and radiation killers.
Thank you very much for, helping many people get more informed about, the benefits of supplements which, has been used for many yrs,in our country as well as Europe, Asia, South America.. Yes,it is a matter of the big pharma and other distribuitors corporations that constantly prey on either the mis-informed or not yet informed…Continue giving us and publishing this very important information for all of us, to enjoy a better life and be able to be responsible for ourselves… I will do,whatever it is necessary to convey this info.. to as many people as I am able
,via all the channels available…..
I always read other readers’ comments to articles about which I have particular interest. Health and health science is of special interest. Paul, on Nov. 24 comments that we need an organization, made up of credentialed scientists, and other health related disciplines that would run counter to the FDA. I strongly 2nd the motion. How can we develop such an organization.
There must be a new way to reach the attention of many millions of people.
It seems that the media is also in the pockets of the BIG PHARMA. Enough is not enough for BIG PHARMA & this group of money hungry people must be part of the 1% greed. When a pharmacy company has enough money to force parents into being arrested & demanding that their children be vaccinated ( see the Prince George County Maryland 2007 story of parents & over 2,300 children ) it is very concerning. When pharmacy companies have no accountability for any harm that is caused by vaccinations ( National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 ) and We the People pay for these very lawsuits out of OUR money – something is very wrong in this wonderful country of ours. Where are the MDs whose very premise is to “do no harm”? Why aren’t the MDs standing up for the citizen rights also? Where have we gone wrong in trying to promote health rather than prescribing more and more dangerous drugs & vaccinations with disastrous outcomes. Why do we have some of the worst health care in the world? Supplements are naturally occurring elements in the human body & need replacement, keeping people healthy & decreasing the need for use of the medical world. Please reconsider this bill & help us keep supplements available & at a reasonable cost for all.
I have suffered chronic stress for most of my life and, as a result, have trouble absorbing many nutrients and almost constantly feel overwhelmed and have inflammation throughout my body. I met a Dr. three years ago who now is under scrutiny by the medical board and has had his license suspended without basis for over a year. In the short time I was able to see this Doctor, I learned so much about nutrition and my immune system and how to control my inflammation, to quite a large degree through the use of cod liver oil, curcuminoids, certain supplements and homeopathic medicines. This Dr. taught me about energy and muscle testing. I just want to make a point about how when an M.D. tried to do healing through nutrition and alternative medicines, he was ridiculed and chastised. Dr. Gambee now puts out a magazine that i believe is worth subscribing to called alternatives. Check it out. Don’t let the Big Pharma take us down! NOR SHALL WE LET THE AMA CONTROL OUR LIVES AND ULTIMATELY, HAND IN HAND WITH THE FDA AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, TAKE OUR LIVES IN THE END.
Back in April of this year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. Faced with the possibility of having to take thyroid medicine for the rest of my life (which at the time, I really didn’t need it), I decided to seek alternative care.
Soon after, I found a naturopath doctor in New York City who encouraged me to take an allergy test. Needless to say, I learned that I was allergic to dairy as well as brewer’s and baker’s yeast. These are two allergens that are linked in causing Hashimoto’s disease.
Since learning of the root cause of my disease, I’ve been refraining from eating foods with the two allergens mentioned. Between that and the natural supplements my doctor has me on, my symptoms have improved significantly to the point where I believe that I will be cured by next year sometime.
The point of my story is that natural supplements do work. Given the media’s slanted presentation on dietary supplements, it’s more important than ever for everyone to consider alternative treatments and take our health into our own hands.
FYI, for anyone taking thyroid medicine, there are natural versions of such medicine that don’t have the side effects that harmone medicines like Thyroizine, Synthroid or Levoxyl can cause.