Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It’s the South Philly cheesesteak diet

But they do lower the cholesterol in vampires--I believe that the three things medical science knows the least about are nutrition, sex and lower back pain.

Remember all those studies showing how vitamins, especially the antioxidants, prevented all kinds of diseases, from the heart break of psoriasis to actual heart break? Foolish of us to believe any of it.

A meta-analysis from Denmark by the respected Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group in Copenhagen, published in JAMA [click here] finds absolutely no benefit in terms of longevity from taking the antioxidants. In fact, instead of living longer, subjects who took many supplements had a modest decrease in longevity. Meta-analysis--for those unfamiliar with the jargon--means they didn’t do the research themselves; they took published papers, extracted the ones they thought worthy, and then did a statistical analysis of them all to draw stastically valid conclusions. When done well, it is a valid form of tracking data.

They used all the studies up to October 2005 involving beta carotene, vitamins A, C and E as well as selenium, compared in blind tests with placebos or nothing, 68 studies worldwide, 232,606 subjects. They found no significant effect on mortality. In 47 studies they actually found an increase in mortality for everything except vitamin C and selenium. Subjects died earlier than those who did not take the supplements. They concluded: “treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality. The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study.”

Criticism of the studies, of course, came immediately [here and here] but why critics bother, I don’t know. Just wait a few months and you will get another study contradicting this one. Meanwhile, I take vitamins.

Remember the studies on garlic and cholesterol? Another reported dud. Multiple studies now show no effect on cholesterol from taking garlic pills or garlic mash potatoes or garlic bread (damn!). All those other studies were all wrong. No study has yet disproven the effects of garlic on vampires although I can tell you I cook extensively with garlic and we have never been bothered by vampires. Nunca. Zero vampires.

As I said, the three things....


Anonymous said...


As with everything in life -- ('everything is connected to everything else' and 'you can never do just one thing') -- there is more to this story than Cochrane will ever discover.

The 'more' is all of the seesaw/teeter-totter kinds of interactions between nutrients.

Taking vitamin E and vitamin C is a great thing. (For one thing, human bodies don't *make* vitamin C like so many other animals do; we need it from diet/supplements.)

But Nature requires a balance between those two and something else. Or several something elses.

Consistently overwhelming the balance is the problem.

jess said...

I suffer from a lot of back pain due to a car accident when I was a child. When it happened I was in pain for a while but after I healed I had very little trouble until I was 15 and my muscles started to develop, I started getting a lot of lower back pain and have suffered with it ever since. That is until recently when I stumbled across memory foam mattresses. They adjust to the shape and weight of my body to support my back perfectly and let me sleep soundly. I can’t even imagine being able to sleep without my memory foam mattress anymore!