Brian Leibovitz, Ph.D. Bad Science (BS) Award Journal of Optimal Nutrition, 2552 Regis Dr., Davis, CA 95616.
Nutritional supplements either work or they don/t -- belief is not required for efficacy. I'd quit science if placebos were capable of curing animal diseases.
"More than 90% of all drug discoveries come from American pharmaceutical companies."
The surprising thing is that only 90% of all drugs come from the pharmaceutical industry.
Recipient Statement Or Action Deserving The BS Award
Vitamin C supplements can double cardiac risk. Vitamin C is especially dangerous in the presence of high body iron stores which make vitamin C violently prooxidant.
A study showing that BETA-carotene supplements produced 18% more lung cancer in smokers was to be expected. "Antioxidant" vitamin supplements are unbalanced biochemistry, i.e., only in the reduced form, which can drive free radical generation by catalytic iron.
A second reason vitamin C supplements would be expected to increase lung cancer and mortality in smokers is that vitamin C supplements drive nicotine out of the blood into the urine, causing smokers to reach for that next cigarette(more carcinogens) that much faster to sustain their nicotine "high". We are now investigating whether BETA-carotene supplements also drive nicotine into the urine.
Large doses of vitamin E enhance immune activity, and thus may promote progression of immune and autoimmune diseases (e.g. asthma, food allergies, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus). Large doses of vitamin C can promote kidney stones.
All of these statements are nonsense: pure bilge. Antioxidants are not half oxidized and half reduced in the body, nor have antioxidants ever been shown to be prooxidants in vivo. Vitamin C reduces cardiac risk, and vitamin E's immunostimulatory actions do not lead to autoimmune diseases or other immune abnormalities. Antioxidant supplements are not "unbalanced biochemistry"; in fact, the only thing unbalanced about this paper is the author.
Their statement that, "a majority of the gurus of questionable nutrition practices are in fact sociopath/psychopaths, as delineated in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III)."
This statement is so bizarre that it doesn’t deserve comment. It should be pointed out, however, that Herbert's paper
"Misleading nutrition claims and their gurus"was, as usual, published in a non peer-reviewed journal (Nutrition Today).
Herbert V. The antioxidant supplement myth. Am J Clin Nutr 60: 157-8, 1994. Herbert V, Kasdan TS. Misleading nutrition claims and their gurus. Nutr Today 29: 28-35, 1994.
JON awards this prize each issue to a person, group, molecule, technique, idea, or event that has recently distinguished itself with bad science.
As in the previous issue, there are so many possible BS Award recipients that it was not possible to make a decision. So as before, the BS Award has been opened to a vote. Jot the name of one candidate and send it to the BS Awards Committee, Journal of Optimal Nutrition, 2552 Regis Dr., Davis, CA 95616. Please mention the volume and issue of JON, as there will likely be repeat candidates. The results will be provided in an upcoming issue.
BS Award candidate
Statement or action deserving the BS Award
The highly-publicized study (2) used as "proof" of a null effect of vitamin E and b-carotene on the incidence of lung cancer in male smokers. In fact, a "statistically- significant" increase in lung cancer incidence was reported in those taking b-carotene (detailed in the Editorial this issue).
The following statement regarding trans-fatty acids on CNN & Company, May 17, 1994:
These trans-fatty acids, found in any kind of vegetable oil which is hardened into margarine or hardened into a vegetable shortening, can raise your good cholesterol and, double whammy, lower your good cholesterol.
The real surprise was that neither the panelists nor the moderator of the other panelists questioned how trans-fatty acids could both raise and lower good cholesterol (aka HDL-cholesterol). The 3 other participants were: Bonnie Leibman of Center for Science in the Public Interest, Elizabeth Whelan of the Am. Council on Science & Health, and Lynn Samuels, a NY radio talk show host.
The affirmation of the safety of an untested product (3). FANSA - the recently-formed Food And Nutrition Science Alliance - is comprised of representatives from ASCN, AIN, IFT, and ADA.
"FANSA's recent release, which strongly supports the safety [emphasis added] and efficacy of bovine somatotropin, is an example of the benefits which can arise from this association."
How could FANSA (or anyone even nominally familiar with science) have reached such a conclusion when no animal (or human) feeding studies have ever been conducted on milk from recombinant bovine growth hormone-treated cows? FANSA's first "accomplishment" was to affirm the safety of an untested product; one can only wonder about FANSA's future proclamations.
Hathcock JN. Safety limits for nutrient intakes: concepts and data requirements. Nutr Rev 51: 278-285, 1993. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. Effect of vitamin E and b-carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. New Engl J Med 330: 1029-1035, 1994. Rivlin RS. President's column. AIN Nutrition Notes 30: 15, 1994. References CitedJON Journal Editorials
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