Dr. Andrew Saul, editor of the Orthomolecular News Service (OMNS), recently wrote a satirical commentary “How to Bash Vitamins with a Meta-Analysis.” This satire takes the form of a memorandum from the world headquarters of pharmaceutical politicians, educators, and reporters (WHOPPER).
The specific vitamin-bashing meta-analysis which prompted Dr. Saul’s satire is titled “Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment” and published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The meta-analysis finds nutritional supplements useless, or with negligible benefit, and even dangerous. These conclusions would be laughable except that it is presented to the public as based on sound science. It is not.
Of note is the fact that the meta-analysis relies on studies using low-dose supplementation, as well as studies using synthetic forms of vitamins and not natural coenzyme forms. For example, folic acid instead of natural folates.
Meta-analyses such as this one are tired, trite, and re-cycled every few years, as if somehow they are “news.” Moreover, the meta-analysis discloses significant conflicts of interest, which not only is disturbing, but also indicates a bias against supplements that makes its false conclusions even less trustworthy.
We re-publish Dr. Saul’s satirical commentary in full below. It is important to put truth distorting meta-analyses like this one in their place on the spectrum of truth. In the case of this meta-analysis, it is literally off the chart. (Pun intended.) ~
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 29, 2018
How to Bash Vitamins with a Meta-Analysis
A Confidential Memorandum from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters (WHOPPER)
Satire by Andrew W. Saul, Editor
TOP SECRET: Do Not Let This Get on the Internet! No Leaks!
Distinguished members, our decades of disparaging nutritional therapy have paid off at last. The public, and their healthcare providers, are completely hoodwinked. By pushing “evidence based medicine” on the medical professions, we have elegantly slipped in our choice of evidence to base medicine on. And this is no mere journeyman accomplishment: this is high art. Mr. Machiavelli would be pleased. Certainly the pharmaceutical cartel is. We are well on our way to eliminating the competition, namely that increasingly irritating “orthomolecular medicine” faction.
Here’s how we are winning the Vitamin War: It is entirely too obvious, from our reading the nutritional literature, that vitamins and minerals are a well-proven, safe and effective therapy. Of course, anyone knows that to work they must be employed in appropriate doses, just as any drug must be given in an appropriate dose. That is the problem, but it is also our opportunity. Since high nutrient doses work all too well, we eliminate all those embarrassing positive high-dose studies simply by ignoring them. By selecting, pooling and analyzing only unsuccessful low dose studies, our conclusions exactly fit what we want the public to believe.
We have established that research data can easily be cherry-picked and meta-analyzed to further our agenda. And, of course, the huge amount of cash we spend on advertising assures that both the medical journals and the mass media will limit discussion to what we approve of. It is now a mere step to do the same in other disciplines, including education, politics, and the social sciences. For example:
- Using data only from poorly funded urban schools, we can prove mathematically, by statistical analysis of grade-point-averages, that inner-city kids have no academic future.
- By collecting data as to how many 19th century women graduated from college, we can show that women then were not as qualified to vote as men are today, and overturn the 19th amendment.
- If we assemble data on screen time and analyze actors’ roles from Hollywood movies made in the 1920s and 1930s, we can demonstrate that some races are best qualified to be domestic workers, tap dancers or to operate laundries.
- By giving a large sample of the homeless 25 cents each, we can show that higher personal income is ineffective against poverty.
- If we tabulate inventory at Ferrari dealerships exclusively, we can prove Hondas are scarce.
- Repeatedly taking the temperature of thousands of cadavers is justification that funeral homes do not need central heating, at least not at night.
Here is unlimited opportunity for social engineering. It logically proceeds from our widely publicized analyses of vitamin supplementation, analyses that were (of course!) limited to studies that used low doses. Political mathematics is a wonderful thing: select your data and meta-analyze it into truth.
Don’t worry: the public will accept it. After all, we just did a meta-analysis of the words of Abraham Lincoln. What he REALLY meant to say is that you can fool all of the people all of the time.
We shall continue to act accordingly.
(End of memo)
The above satirical commentary is in reply to yet another vitamin-bashing report. This particular one is Supplemental vitamins and minerals for CVD prevention and treatment. J Amer Col Cardiology 2018, 71:22.
The Orthomolecular Medicine News Service strongly disagrees with allegations that supplements are basically useless or even harmful.
Dr. Michael Ellis (Australia) says:
“There are hundreds of papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and other journals which support the use of orthomolecular medicine to prevent and cure chronic disease. The paper discussed here does not take into account dosages of vitamins and bioavailability. The meta analyses are therefore biased and not accurate.”
Dr. Damien Downing (United Kingdom) says:
“This should be a rule: never trust a study with more metadata than data. This study is a review of reviews – a meta-meta-analysis. Selecting multiple studies introduces another level of judgment, with new potential for bias. Just as peer reviewers can introduce their own bias, so can review authors; some evidence indicates that reviewers bias selection significantly in favor of their own final conclusions.”
The financial interests of the study’s authors makes VERY interesting reading. To see this truly enormous list, you have to scroll way, way down at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109718345601 Interestingly, if you download the paper, you do not get the conflict of interest section with it. You have to see it online to get the whole story. How about that.
(Andrew W. Saul has been Editor-in-Chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service for 14 years. You can watch videos where he rebuts other attacks against vitamin and mineral supplements at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88aUHMP3eN8&index=2&list=PL7YKya_R1ROuUyBFbKLeAp8iIITihxB-g and also at https://www.facebook.com/themegavitaminman/videos/265980030275194/ )
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Editorial Review Board:
Ilyès Baghli, M.D. (Algeria)
Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Prof. Gilbert Henri Crussol (Spain)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael J. Gonzalez, N.M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Tonya S. Heyman, M.D. (USA)
Suzanne Humphries, M.D. (USA)
Ron Hunninghake, M.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Jeffrey J. Kotulski, D.O. (USA)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Homer Lim, M.D. (Philippines)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Victor A. Marcial-Vega, M.D. (Puerto Rico)
Charles C. Mary, Jr., M.D. (USA)
Mignonne Mary, M.D. (USA)
Jun Matsuyama, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)
Dave McCarthy, M.D. (USA)
Joseph Mercola, D.O. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Tahar Naili, M.D. (Algeria)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Dag Viljen Poleszynski, Ph.D. (Norway)
Jeffrey A. Ruterbusch, D.O. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Thomas L. Taxman, M.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Garry Vickar, MD (USA)
Ken Walker, M.D. (Canada)
Anne Zauderer, D.C. (USA)
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor-In-Chief
Editor, Japanese Edition: Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA), Associate Editor
Helen Saul Case, M.S. (USA), Assistant Editor
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA), Contributing Editor
Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA), Technology Editor
Jason M. Saul, JD (USA), Legal Consultant
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Read abstract of the meta-analysis: “Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment.” J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Jun 5;71(22):2570-2584. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.04.020.