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Nets Attack Vitamin Supplements After Study Casts Doubt on Disease Prevention

     Remember when you were young and encouraged to take your vitamins to grow up big and strong? That was probably a waste of time – at least at least according two of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Dec. 9.

 

     Remember when you were young and encouraged to take your vitamins to grow up big and strong? That was probably a waste of time – at least at least according two of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Dec. 9.

 

     A new study released on Dec. 9 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that neither vitamins E nor C reduce the risk for prostate cancer or total cancer – “according to the results of a large, long-term, randomized trial of male physicians.” Both the Dec. 9 “CBS Evening News” and the “NBC Nightly News” featured the results –and questioned whether vitamin supplements are worthwhile altogether.

 

     The CBS segment featured a report by Dr. Jonathan LaPook, the “CBS Evening News” medical correspondent. According to LaPook, the results were disappointing, but he thought it was important to point out that vitamin supplements are big business.

 

 

    “This is just the latest in a string of disappointing news about vitamin pills, a nearly $8 billion industry,” LaPook said. “Last month, a study showed neither vitamins E nor C prevent heart disease.”

 

     “Evening News” spoke with Paul Coates, head of the Office of Dietary Supplements for the National Institutes of Health, labeled as “the government’s top authority on supplements” by CBS. He said vitamins B, C and E were ineffective in preventing diseases, including cancer.

 

     However, the report did not explain that each of those vitamins play a role in nutrition for a healthy human being, despite the uncertainty of their roles in disease prevention.

 

     “NBC Nightly News” ran as similar segment reporting the findings of the study and told viewers they can eat “fresh fruits and vegetables” in lieu of these supplements.

 

     “Scientists point out that a multitude of studies show that a healthy diet, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables reduce the risk for many diseases but vitamins and supplement pills have so far not made much difference when put to the test,” NBC chief science correspondent Robert Bazell said.

 

     But supplements are not intended to be substitutes for natural sources of vitamins, as both the CBS and NBC reports make them out to be, but supplements – hence the name.

 

     “Dietary supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are defined in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) as any products which contain one or more dietary ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids or other ingredients used to supplement the diet,” the Council for Responsible Nutrition explains on their Web site.