What’s the Latest Development?
Recent studies have validated the essentially one-sided story that popular vitamin supplements are associated with high incidents of cancer, heart disease, and death. “On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota evaluated 39,000 older women and found that those who took supplemental multivitamins, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron died at rates higher than those who didn’t. They concluded, “Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.” Studies with similar results were published in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008.
What’s the Big Idea?
Despite the repeatedly bad news, vitamin sales in the US have never suffered. In 2010, the industry scored record profits of $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. It is thought that large doses of antioxidants, such as those found in vitamin supplements, cause an unnatural state in which the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. But whatever the reason, the data are clear: “High doses of vitamins and supplements increase the risk of heart disease and cancer; for this reason, not a single national or international organization responsible for the public’s health recommends them.”
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