A friend recently sent me the following story from PBS:
I read it and then I searched to find the original study at the NIH website, but though it could be found, it could not be opened. Perhaps we will see it soon.
I was interested in the actual study because, as someone who researches this stuff all the time, I know that a study can fail for many reasons, and the chief reason is that the study was designed to fail, leaving everyone to fall in line and take drugs rather than natural substances or even diet and exercise (that has always been recommended by physicians even though they knew nothing about diet and perhaps even less about exercise).
Additionally, when one considers studies about fish oils, the assumption of the researchers oftentimes is that all fish oils have been created equally. Anyone with an ear to the ground when it comes to vitamins and supplements (or a membership with ConsumerLab.com) knows that no two supplements are the same and that fish oils range from great to horrible, with some being blatantly questionable from the git-go.
And the same goes for Vitamin D. Studies have been using synthetic vitamin D for years and getting crappy results. Since most of you are not synthetic human beings, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to take synthetic vitamins.
From the article:
“Both trials were negative,” says Dr. Lawrence Fine, chief of the clinical application and prevention branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the studies.
“Overall, they showed that neither fish oil nor vitamin D actually lowered the incidence of heart disease or cancer,” Fine says.
I immediately suspected something was wrong with these studies simply because of all the scientific research we’ve gathered in the past concerning both fish oils and vitamin D.
Vitamin D (as we’ve declared in the past) is more likely a hormone rather than a vitamin, and it happens to affect over 400 different processes in the body. For a while, it seemed as if scientists were discovering, daily, new benefits of vitamin D. Every newsletter I opened, every scan of daily health news reports, and even the evening news had something on vitamin D.
And now to learn many of those studies concerning the two biggest killers in America (if you don’t count conventional medicine), cancer and heart disease, find no benefits from fish oils and/or vitamin D . . . well, it’s time to hang up my hat and find a new profession.
Except that this kind of crap stimulates me even more to investigate further.
We live in a society where corporate profits are meaningful and people’s lives are not. There is this guiding principle in this corporatocracy called, Acceptable Risk.
Acceptable risk means that it is perfectly acceptable for one person in a million to die from corporate policies and practices.
If you ever meet an attorney who has some free time, ask them about this subject and how it came up in their education during law school.
I’ve done exactly that and have been told of hours of convoluted, machinated, and twisted logic that went into the arguments to prove that this “practice” is perfectly fine here in America.
And the thing is, if one can die, hundreds can die. And thousands can die. This is the real slippery slope.
But it should be noted: nobody goes to prison.
My point is: we live in a society where we are not people, we are consumers. And we are directed to consume. And since one of the most powerful industries in America is the Industrial Medical/Pharmaceutical Complex we are directed to take drugs.
We are allowed to “waste” some of our hard earned incomes on silly things like good food and some supplementation.
When our government performs a study, the results oftentimes are going to be skewed by corporate influence. Many will eat it all up till full, but those of us who’ve witnessed this behavior in the past, those of us with critical cerebration skills, those of us who’ve been “fooled once,” won’t be fooled again. I want to know more about “this study.”
We have found in our research that vitamin D can lower your chances of certain cancers by 70%. If you just Google the two, cancer and vitamin D together, you’ll find page after page of study after study.
Take a look:
Several epidemiological, pre-clinical and clinical studies support vitamin D as a preventive and therapeutic cancer agent, for a wide spectrum of cancer. The aim of this proposed study is to evaluate the effect of vitamin D supplementation on melanoma recurrence and mortality.
The UVB–vitamin D–cancer hypothesis has considerable supporting scientific evidence from a variety of study types: geographical ecological, observational, and laboratory studies of mechanisms, as well as several clinical trials. At this time, the general public and individual physicians can spend more reasonable time in the sun and use vitamin D3 to prevent and treat many cancers. Hopefully soon, the clinical evidence will be strong enough that health care systems and agencies will endorse vitamin D3 supplementation as a way to prevent and treat cancer.
Strong evidence indicates that intake or synthesis of vitamin D is associated with reduced incidence and death rates of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers. More than 1000 laboratory and epidemiological studies have been published concerning the association between vitamin D and its metabolites and cancer. Long-term studies have demonstrated the efficacy of moderate intake of vitamin D in reducing cancer risk and, when administered with calcium, in reducing the incidence of fractures.226 Despite these reassuring studies, the public health and medical communities have not adopted use of vitamin D for cancer prevention.
And what about heart disease?
Vitamin D & Heart Disease (from the Cleveland Clinic)
Vitamin D has long been valued for its role in preventing rickets and building strong bones. Vitamin D has also been associated with the prevention and treatment of diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and immune system disorders. The latest research shows that vitamin D is also beneficial in preventing heart disease.
I’m going to end this right here. I’ve been doing this research for over 30 years and I’m sick and tired of a “government” study that contradicts all evidence we’ve uncovered in the past.
And the Public Broadcasting System needs to do more than stand as a mouthpiece for these lousy studies.
But now we should take a look at . . .
The Cochrane group (one of the most respected scientific organizations in the US), examined 79 previously-published studies involving more than 112,000 people and found there was no difference in the risk of death or heart disease between people who were taking omega-3 supplements and those who were not taking them.
But then in China, at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine, they analyzed an even larger group of 421,000 people and learned that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids did have a protective effect against heart disease death, reducing the risk by 15% in men and 8% in women. Additionally, eating fish reduced the risk of cancer by 6%, lung disease death by 20%, and death from chronic liver disease by 37%. [Ref]
The Cochrane group’s examination begs the question: But what about the published findings out of the Oschner Medical Center in New Orleans, that involved studies going back some 30 years that showed that fish oils reduced the risk of a second heart attack by 30%? Their recommendations are that healthy people should take 500 mg of omega-3 fish oils (containing both DHA and EPA), while those who’ve been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease should double that. [Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2009: 54: 585-94]
And then what about the 31 placebo-controlled studies [RCTs] involving 1356 people and published in Circulation [1993 August, 88: 523-33] that showed fish oils reduced blood pressure levels in patients diagnosed with hypertension? They also discovered that the results were dose-dependent; that those taking more realized an even greater drop in blood pressure. Interestingly enough, fish oils did not lower blood pressure in those with normal blood pressure levels.
Hell, even Time magazine published in 2008 a study in which two groups had been established: one had the experimental group take a fish oil while the control group took a placebo, and the other group had the experimental side take the statin drug Crestor with the control group taking a placebo. The results? Well, of course, the fish oils worked better in that they increased the HDL (good cholesterol) levels in those taking them. And we all know that HDL levels prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
Nicolas Bazan and his team at the Louisiana State University discovered that fish oils produce a “signaling molecule” named by Bazan as neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1).
Years earlier Banzan’s research established that DHA (in fish oils) is vital for healthy brain function, and is especially needed by newborns to develop their nervous system and vision. Their latest research showed that fish oils help repair brain cell and eye cell damage caused by strokes, retinal diseases, and neuro-degenerative diseases. However, they must be taken shortly after the damage occurs. [Ref]
The brain protective effects of fish oils were established even earlier in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 109: 1573. The junk food, inflammatory diets of teens was countered by fish oils that interfered with the inflammatory triglyceride fats and re-established healthy nerve growth.
In a study of around 300 adolescents with mental problems (learning difficulties, forgetfulness, withdrawal, and even hearing voices) found “substantial” improvement using fish oils. [The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, February 8, 2012]
Inflammation has been associated with anxiety (see also, Nutrition & Depression). In a small study at the U of Ohio, 68 medical students were recruited to take fish oils (about four times the amount of oil in a serving of a fatty fish, like salmon). Medical students suffer very high levels of stress; it’s just a part of the program. However, the fish oil capsules showed a 20% reduction in stress levels over those of the placebo group. [Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 2011; doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229]
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry [2010; doi: 10.4088/JCP.10m05966blu] published a study of 432 patients with major depression that showed that fish oils alone helped them when conventional anti-depressants couldn’t.
At UCLA, it was discovered that increasing levels of omega-3s from fish oil and lowering levels of omega-6 fatty acids dropped inflammation in men with prostate cancer, making their cancers less aggressive. [Ref]
As we age, a toxic molecule at the back of the eye causes vision loss. A team at the U of Alberta discovered that fish oils stop the buildup of that specific molecule. [Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2012; 53: 2256]
Prof Daniel Michaelson of Tel Aviv University identified the APOE gene as a major cause of Alzheimer’s. One variation of the gene, known as APOE4, is a brain cell killer and is found in half of all Alzheimer’s patients. People with this gene have a far greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s as they age, but Professor Michaelson and his team found that fish oils rendered the effects of the APOE4 gene harmless. [American Friends of Tel Aviv University, February 15, 2011]
And finally, fish oils seem to help people with psoriasis. Clinical trials at the Medical College of Wisconsin, discovered this improvement after looking at the diets of Inuits and Eskimos to the north. There seems to be an inflammatory substance in psoriasis sufferers that the fish oils can calm. The trials demonstrated this improvement by the addition of fish oils to diets. [Ref]
Taking fish oils for a period of six months has been found to cause a bit of a problem. Sure, they increase the amounts of “good” fatty acids in your bloodstream, but these oils are, as you all should know, very fragile. If not refrigerated they go bad. If you’ve ever read anything about fish oils, one fact that stands out is that many are bad by the time you take them. For example, if the oils are smelly, they are already going bad. One must take proper care of fish oils before taking them, and now you’re about to learn that you have to care for them after you’ve taken them.
Circulating in your blood stream, these lipids (fatty acids) can oxidize (rust). Cholesterol can oxidize. This is why we need antioxidants, to anti-oxidize the lipids coursing through our bloodstream.
A good vitamin E (not those synthetic alpha tocopherols), with mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols, can be very helpful. [The one I purchase from Swanson’s is Vitamin E with Tocotrienols – Full Spectrum] A daily vitamin C [my favorite is Swanson’s Supreme C Complex] also helps.
Then there’s garlic and fiber. [Ref] We need fiber. Our diets should always be rich in fiber, and that’s why, personally, I get some of my omega-3s from flax, or Omegasentials. The oils in Omegasentials are already protected by antioxidants in the formula, and the fiber is just plain necessary.
And beware of cod liver oil because many seem to be just toxic with mercury. You don’t have any worries about mercury with Omegasentials.
Yes, we have affiliate programs and we sure as hell want you to support our sellers because they support us. And our best affiliate program is with Swanson, a name I trust, at prices you can’t beat.
Here are the fish oil supplements I order from Swanson: EcOmega EPA/DHA Fish Oil (we’ve never found this to be old and smelly; while containing lots of DHA and EPA)
As for our vitamin D, we still use NOW Foods brand, but again from Swanson: NOW Foods Vitamin D3.
And finally, Omegasentials. A lot of you know exactly where to get it. You can go to www.omegasentials.com or go visit Simply the Best. If you do not know about Omegasentials, briefly: The management of the company all passed away and today I, your author/editor, make it up and ship it out. Oh, and I invent recipes using it. You might want to read: The Resurrection of Omegasentials.
I do not have to read the original study to know that they did not test or use one (actually two) specific fish oil (from anchovies). It’s called (registered trademark) Provinal®, a blend of fish oils which is them mixed with Palmitoleic Acid (another oil from anchovies). These are the new Omega-7s found in Cardia-7 and Flexinol [which we wrote about here: There’s a New Omega Fatty Acid on the Block.]
Simply the Best no longer carries Cardia-7 because Flexinol is just more powerful. Presently (Nov 2018), Simply the Best is giving away bottles (if there is room in your order) and has Flexinol on sale for $10.00 per bottle. This is because they have over a thousand bottles of “expired” Flexinol, which, according to their customers, is still working just as good as the new capsules. They’ve been kept in a cool, dark location. In one of our newsletters we talked about expiration dates and their meaninglessness, but here’s an article you might want to read: Drug Expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything? Then run over to Simply the Best and pick up the best oil you can give your heart.
We just had to do more research because the conventional media is always looking for stories that are shocking or upsetting. Additionally, there’s a popular movement of debunking. I think it started Pen & Teller’s program, Bullshit! which was on Showtime, so they could get away with that title. And now we have Adam Ruins Everything.
One problem with both of these programs is that they cherry-pick, and they use the same types of studies that we’ve found that “prove” supplementing with Fish Oils & Vitamin D are worthless.
The main problems with these programs is that they are popular and they play to everyone’s need for cynicism. And if you wanted to trash vitamins and supplements, there is always some study out there just waiting for you to find it.
However, our job is not to play to anyone’s fantasies or to join in some sort of popular culture potpourri. Our job is to uncover the truth, whether we or you like it. It’s simply got to be the truth. So, here goes.
We found this study:
And here are the . . .
Supplementation with vitamin D did not result in a lower incidence of invasive cancer or cardiovascular events than placebo.
Now pay attention, because this is where we get paid the big bucks to do our job. We tore this study apart and discovered that if you exclude the first two years from the study, you find that the death rate from cancer with vitamin D supplementation was 25% lower than the placebo group.
We don’t know what caused this or how it occurred or what happened in the study. These are things we just cannot know. However, we do know that the final conclusions were cherry-picked.
One thing about studies of vitamins and supplements that sometimes just don’t make it into the final write-up is the condition of the participant when they joined the study. In a vitamin D study, you’d think the researchers would first determine if the participants’ vitamin D levels were already sufficient before starting.
There was a study on post-menopausal women in rural Nebraska in which vitamin D “supplementation” did not lower their risk of cancer over the placebo. But then they looked at the women’s levels prior to testing, and they also discovered that the women in the study were not generally deficient in the vitamin to begin with.
The same thing happened in New Zealand. Researchers failed to take into account that few people, if any, were deficient to begin with.
But here is a study that showed some cancer preventive properties: Circulating Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Risk: An International Pooling Project of 17 Cohorts.
The higher vitamin D levels were associated with much lower risk of a form of colorectal cancer. The study showed a direct relationship between their levels and their immune systems, which would add to the literature already existing on vitamin D’s immune system boosting effects.
Another study published in JAMA showed that higher blood levels of vitamin D at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis were associated with higher overall survival rates. The study consisted of women averaging 59 years of age. There were 1,666 women in the study. Nineteen percent of the women in the study with the lowest levels died during the follow-up period. But when researchers did their math, they learned that women with the highest levels, higher than 25 ng/ml, were 28% less likely to have died than those with the lowest levels.
We found another study with the same conclusions: Meta-analysis of Vitamin D Sufficiency for Improving Survival of Patients with Breast Cancer
Women with the highest levels when diagnosed were twice as likely to survive as those with the lowest levels.
A study in Spain [Plasma 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 and Bladder Cancer Risk According to Tumor Stage and FGFR3 Status: A Mechanism-Based Epidemiological Study] found that risks of bladder cancer were higher in people with low blood levels of vitamin D. In fact they were 83% higher than those with levels of 30ng/ml or less.
When it comes to overall mortality, cohort studies show that in older adults, overall mortality was reduced by 11%. But get this: this was only when they were supplementing with vitamin D3. Those supplementing with vitamin D2 found no such benefits.
The study also found that in the US, among the elderly, 13% of deaths are more attributable to low vitamin D levels than to inactivity. [Chowdhury, BMJ 2014]
And finally, an analysis (cohort study) of data involving 3,509 patients recovering from surgery (non-cardiac) at the Cleveland Clinic found that patients with high levels of vitamin D were less likely (65% less likely) to experience serious post-operative complications, or death, than those with low blood levels of vitamin D. [Turan, Anesth Analg 2014]
Journalism in this country sucks. It has to be shocking or entertaining or fake to be noticed.
Apparently, they can’t copy our model that simply says write the truth in a conversational manner, toss in a bit of humor now and then, and you’re good to go.
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