The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a good quality, placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trial looking at whether vitamin C and E supplementation can reduce cardiovascular events. It ran for 10 years, and included “14 641 US male physicians enrolled, who were initially aged 50 years or older, including 754 men (5.1%) with prevalent cardiovascular disease at randomization.” The trial concluded that “[t]hese data provide no support for the use of these supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and older men.”
I was surprised to see that the alternative nutrition industry has not yet responded to this – I was waiting with bated breath for Sir Cliff Richard’s definitive critique of the science – so I thought that I would respond on their behalf: frankly, the alternative nutrition industry’s response to such trials has become tediously predictable so there seems to be little point in waiting.
I will list a number of likely industry responses below; I will then enjoy the small satisfaction of ticking them off when they appear in industry press releases:
– Wrong type of vitamin pills (e.g. not ‘natural’ or organic vitamin C and E pills)
– Not high enough doses.
– Excessive doses.
– Treatment needs to be individualised.
– Participants were too young to reveal the effects of the pills.
– Participants were too old to reveal the effects of the pills.
– Supplements don’t work unless taken with loads of other pills.
– Pills need to be taken several times a day, in order to maintain levels of the vitamins.
– Subjects may have been using pharma drugs alongside the vitamins: this is why the antioxidants did not provide the ultimate protection.
– Subjects were eating bad diets: this is why the pills did not work.
– Subjects were eating good diets: this is why the pills did not work.
– Measuring the wrong things. Who cares about stroke when Vitamin C will protect you from something really nasty that wasn’t measured…
– Participants were too ill to reveal the effects of the pills.
– Participants didn’t have health problems so couldn’t reveal the effects of the pills.
– How much did big pharma pay the researchers?
– We have mounds of in vitro and observational studies, research in animals, anecdotes etc. that PROVE this is wrong.
– We need more research to PROVE that the pills we sell work. Don’t be silly, of course we won’t fund good quality research from our own profits…
So, did I miss any?